Children's Gist-based False Memory in Working Memory Tasks


  • Rousselle Manon
  • Abadie Marlène
  • Blaye Agnès
  • Camos Valérie


  • False Memory
  • Cognitive Development
  • Fuzzy Trace Theory
  • Working Memory
  • Long-term Memory

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False memories are well established episodic memory phenomena. Recent research in young adults has shown that semantically related associates can be falsely remembered as studied items in working memory (WM) tasks for lists of only a few items when a short 4second interval was given between study and test. The present study reported two experiments yielding similar effects in 4-(n = 32 and 33, 18 and 14 females, respectively) and 8-year-old children (n = 33 and 34, respectively, 19 females in both). Short lists of semantically related items specifically tailored for young children were retained over a brief interval. Whether or not the interval was filled with a concurrent task that impeded or not WM maintenance, younger children were as prone to falsely recognize related distractors as their older counterparts in an immediate recognition test, and also in a delayed test. In addition, using the conjoint recognition model of the fuzzy-trace theory, we demonstrated that the retrieval of gist traces of the list themes was responsible for the occurrence of short-term false memories in 4-and 8-year-old children. Gist memory also underpinned the occurrence of false recognition in the delayed test. These findings suggest that young children are as likely to make gist-based false memories as older children in working memory tasks.

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