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Language facilitates event memory in early childhood: Child comprehension, adult-provided linguistic support and delayed recall at 16 months

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Adult-provided supportive language facilitates memory for the past in preverbal and verbal children. Work conducted with 18-month-olds indicates that children benefit from supportive adult language when tested after a 4-week delay but not when tested immediately after sequence demonstration; moreover, findings reveal that supportive language provided only at test may be more facilitative of recall after a delay relative to supportive language provided only at encoding. In the present study, we examined whether child language comprehension abilities moderated the extent to which preverbal children benefitted from supportive language provided at encoding and test. The findings indicated that child language comprehension and supportive language provided at encoding were unassociated with performance at baseline or immediate imitation; however, the moderating effect of child language comprehension on adult-provided supportive language at encoding and test was observed after a 1-week delay. Correlations revealed continuous associations between general comprehension scores and recall performance after the 1-week delay on sequences presented in the most supportive condition at encoding. Taken together, the presented findings reveal that the complex interplay between language and cognition is established in early childhood, with foundational relations emerging before children are capable of verbally reporting on the past.
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Keywords: Child; Comprehension; Infant; Language; Memory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA

Publication date: August 18, 2015

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