Visual Working Memory in Early Development: A Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Perspective

J Neurophysiol. 2018 Oct 1;120(4):1472-1483. doi: 10.1152/jn.00087.2018. Epub 2018 Jun 13.


In this article, we review the literature on the development of visual working memory (VWM). We focus on two major periods of development, infancy and early childhood. First, we discuss the innovative methods that have been devised to understand how the development of selective attention and perception provide the foundation of VWM abilities. We detail the behavioral and neural data associated with the development of VWM during infancy. Next, we discuss various signatures of development in VWM during early childhood in the context of spatial and featural memory processes. We focus on the developmental transition to more adult-like VWM properties. Finally, we discuss computational frameworks that have explained the complex patterns of behavior observed in VWM tasks from infancy to adulthood and attempt to explain links between measures of infant VWM and childhood VWM.

Keywords: cognitive neuroscience; early childhood; infancy; visual working memory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child Development*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Neurogenesis
  • Visual Perception*