Longitudinal Development of Memory for Temporal Order in Early to Middle Childhood

J Genet Psychol. 2020 Jul-Aug;181(4):237-254. doi: 10.1080/00221325.2020.1741504. Epub 2020 Apr 7.


Existing studies examining the development of temporal order memory show that although young children perform above chance on some tasks assessing temporal order memory, there are significant age-related differences across childhood. Yet, the trajectory of children's ability to retrieve temporal order remains unclear as existing conclusions are drawn from cross-sectional studies. The present study utilized an accelerated longitudinal design in order to characterize the developmental trajectory of temporal order memory in a sample of 200 healthy 4- to 8-year-old children. Specifically, two tasks commonly used in the literature were tested longitudinally: a primacy judgment task and an ordering task. Results revealed that, even after controlling for differences in IQ, linearly increasing trajectories characterized age-related change in performance for both tasks; however, change appeared greater for the temporal ordering task. Further, performance on the two tasks was positively related, suggesting shared underlying mechanisms. These findings provide a more thorough understanding of temporal order memory in early to middle childhood by characterizing the developmental trajectories of two commonly used tasks and have important implications for our understanding of children's developing memory more broadly.

Keywords: Development; early childhood; longitudinal change; temporal order memory.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Thinking / physiology*
  • Time Factors