In adults it is most typical for memories to become foggy or forgotten over time; however, a new study concludes that for children remembering works differently. For children time actually increases the strength of memory. In other words, they remember things better a few days after they learn something than the day they learned it.
Part of the study observed children playing a video game that asked them to remember associations between objects, 4- and 5-year-olds who re-played the game after a two-day delay scored more than 20 percent higher than kids who re-played it later the same day.
Kevin Darby, a doctoral student in psychology at The Ohio State University is a co-author of the study.
The study, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, is the first to document two different but related cognitive phenomena simultaneously: so-called “extreme forgetting” – when kids learn two similar things in rapid succession, and the second thing causes them to forget the first – and delayed remembering – when they can recall the previously forgotten information days later.
The study suggests that kids may have difficulty remembering things in the moment, but given a few days to absorb the new information, they can remember it later.
The authors cautioned that the study does not in any way suggest that kids can absorb adult-sized quantities of information if only they are given time to sleep on it. Rather, it means that they can absorb kid-sized quantities of information given time, even if they seem to forget in the moment.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
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