Reinstatement

In addition to reenactment, children can also be reminded of the past activity by coming in contact with physical reminders, but without actually reproducing the actions. For example, children might observe someone else performing the activity, or they might see the props associated with activity. Are these types of experiences effective in reinstating young children's event memories? Reinstatement research in infants using the response-contingency paradigm reviewed above suggests that with increasing age, children may be reminded of past events by exposure to objects that are similar, but not identical to those encountered in initial training. Research using deferred imitation has also shown that between the first two years of life, children become more flexible in their use of retrieval cues (Hayne, MacDonald, & Barr, 1997) and more flexible in terms of the medium with which training is presented (Barr & Hayne, 1999). For example, Hayne et al. showed that 12-month-olds could not remember their training if at final test the original objects (i.e., puppets) were replaced with new objects differing in form or color, but 18-month-olds were successful if one of the two dimensions changed. By 21 months, children could accommodate both color and form change. Thus, with increased age throughout the second year of life, children were better able to retrieve information they learned during their initial session upon presentation of dissimilar stimuli at the test session.

It is also possible that this age-related increase in flexibility in use of retrieval cues is accompanied by a similar increase in the range of reminders that are effective for memory reinstatement. Developments in children's ability to use reminders to reinstate event memories may help to explain why memories for events occurring after the age of 3 are more likely to be retained in very long-term autobiographic memory as compared to memories from the infant and toddler years.

Reinstatement With Modeling

In our first reinstatement experiment (Sheffield & Hudson, 1994), we tested whether 14- and 18-month-olds could be reminded of a past event by viewing an experimenter perform some of the activities they had learned previously. We were interested in whether children could be reminded of a past event by passive exposure to a subset of activities from the original event. This study differed from the Hudson and Sheffield (1998) study in that children did not reenact any actions themselves during the reminder session, but merely watched an experiment reenact half of the activities. We selected children at different ages to see whether there were developmental differences in children's ability to use subset reminders.

Three conditions were used in this experiment (see Table 9.2). Children in the train/remind and train only (no reminder) conditions were trained to perform 6 novel activities similar to those used in the reenactment studies. Eight weeks after training, 14-month-olds in the train/remind condition participated in a reminder session while 10 weeks after training, 18-month-olds in the train/remind condition participated in a reminder session. Because pilot research had shown that the retention interval varied for children at different ages, different intervals were selected for each age group. In the reminder session, children viewed an experimenter model three of the six activities they had learned previously, but children did not perform the activities themselves. Both ages were tested for recall 24 hours later. Children in the train/no remind conditions did not participate in a reminder session and were tested for recall 8 or 10 weeks after training. Children in the no train/remind conditions were

TABLE 9.2

Schedule of Conditions, Modeling Reinstatement Experiment

Condition

Training

Reminder

Test

14-month-olds Train/Remind Train/No remind No train/Remind

18-month-olds Train/Remind Train/No remind No train/Remind

Day 1 Day 1

Day 1 Day 1 Day 1

Week 8 Week 8

Week 10 Week 10 Week 10

Week 8 Week 8 Week 8

Week 10 Week 10 Week 10

Source: Sheffield & Hudson (1994).

never trained to perform the activities, but viewed an experimenter perform three of the activities and then were tested on their ability to perform all of the activities 24 hours later. This condition provided a test of children's ability to perform the actions simply by imitating the experimenter.

We expected recall of modeled actions to be high for both the train/remind and no train/remind conditions. Results from deferred imitation research suggested that 14- and 18-month-olds would be able to remember actions seen the day before and reproduce them in a test session (Meltzoff, 1988a) which was equivalent to the experience of children in the no train/remind condition. However, the critical comparison was of children's recall of the unmodeled actions across conditions. If reinstatement occurred, recall should be high for unmodeled actions for children in the train/remind condition but not for children in the train/no remind condition.

Results showed clear evidence of reinstatement. As shown in Figure 9.3, recall of unmodeled activities was higher in the train/remind condition for both ages than in either of the other two conditions, indicating that a subset reminder effectively reinstated both 14- and 18-month-olds' memory for all of the activities. (As expected, recall of modeled activities was high for both the train/reminder and no train/remind conditions, indicating that children were capable of deferred imitation.). This indicated that partial reminders are effective in reinstating toddlers' memory for all of the event actions, even

Figure 9.3 Recall of modeled and unmodeled actions by age and condition with standard error bars, Modeling Reinstatement Experiment. Includes recall scores from the Train/Remind (Tr/Re), No-Train/Remind (No-Tr/Re), and Train/No-Remind (Tr/No-Re) conditions. From Sheffield & Hudson (1994).

Figure 9.3 Recall of modeled and unmodeled actions by age and condition with standard error bars, Modeling Reinstatement Experiment. Includes recall scores from the Train/Remind (Tr/Re), No-Train/Remind (No-Tr/Re), and Train/No-Remind (Tr/No-Re) conditions. From Sheffield & Hudson (1994).

Tr/Re No-Tr/Re Tr/No-Re Tr/Re No-Tr/Re Tr/No-Re when children were not active participants. Interestingly, there were no developmental differences in reinstatement effects for 14- and 18-month-olds, indicating that partial reinstatement was equally effective across this age range.

These results led us to consider how other kinds of reminders could be effective in reinstating toddlers' event memories. In real-world situations, children may regularly encounter reminders that simulate or represent their experiences in different media such as watching videos or viewing photographs in a family album. The question remained; do these reminder situations actually reinstate children's memories?

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