MEMORY FOR OBJECT LOCATION: ENCODING STRATEGIES IN CHILDREN pp. 91-116
Authors: Annalisa Lucidi, Clelia Rossi-Arnaud, Laura Pieroni and Vincenzo Cestari
Abstract: A number of studies (Cestari et al., 2007; Postma and De Haan, 1996) suggest that two separate spatial processes may be involved in short-term object location memory. First, one needs to remember the precise position occupied in a given space (positional encoding per se), then one has to decide which object was at which position (object-to-position assignment). The aim of the present study was to investigate the way children of different ages code for object locations referring to the theoretical framework of working memory (Baddeley, 1986, 2000; Baddeley and Hitch, 1974). In particular, the main questions addressed in this chapter were: a) when children have to remember the location of objects do they recode visual material verbally? b) Is this process age-dependent? A modified version of Postma and De Haan‘s (1996) object location task was used and three relocation conditions were examined. In the first condition, subjects had to remember spatial positions in a two-dimensional matrix. In the second task, object-location associations were examined and previously occupied positions were signalled so that children only had to remember object-to-position assignment (i.e., ―what was where‖) while in the third condition, the ―combined‖ condition, children had to perform both positional reconstruction and object-to-position assignment. In order to examine which encoding strategy children aged 5 and 11 years spontaneously use in temporary memory for object location, we interfered with the activity of the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial sketch pad adopting a dual task methodology. In the second experiment, to further investigate the object-to-location binding, the visual and verbal characteristics of the stimuli used in the test were manipulated and children of the same two age groups were tested. Our results show that children of age 11, like adults, use mainly a phonological recoding for pictorial stimuli while younger children show a ―mixed strategy‖ based both on visual and phonological information.