Recognition and source memory for pictures in children and adults

Neuropsychologia. 2001;39(3):255-67. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(00)00108-1.


The present experiment investigated the developmental aspects of source compared to item memory. College students and 7-8-year-old children viewed pictures drawn in red or green during a study phase, and were asked either to remember the pictures for a subsequent recognition test, or to remember both the pictures and their associated colors for a subsequent source memory test. In the test phase, new and old pictures were presented in black. In the recognition task, participants were asked to make binary old/new recognition judgments, while in the source task, they were asked to make trinary old-green/old-red/new source judgements. Performance on all tasks improved with increasing age, but the age difference for source was much larger than that for item memory. It has been suggested that the frontal lobes play a critical role in the retrieval of source information, and that this brain region relative to the medial temporal lobes continues to develop into late adolescence. Thus, it is possible that immaturity of the frontal lobes may be causally related to the children's lower performance on the source memory task.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Color
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Visual Perception