The effect of spacing repetitions on the recognition memory of young children and adults

J Exp Child Psychol. 1991 Feb;51(1):123-38. doi: 10.1016/0022-0965(91)90079-8.


In Experiment 1, preschoolers, first graders, and third graders were presented a list of pictures that included twice-presented items separated by varying numbers of intervening items. Performance on a subsequent recognition test improved as the spacing between repetitions increased, but the effect of spacing did not interact reliably with grade level. In Experiment 2a, we replicated the spaced-repetition effect in young children and found a similar effect in college students. In Experiment 2b, we varied the conditions under which lists were presented to college students and again found a spacing function that was comparable to that of very young children. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that spaced-repetition effects in recognition are produced by fundamental memory mechanisms that are operational at a very early age and which undergo little change with development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Retention, Psychology