Short- and Long-Delay Consolidation of Memory Accessibility and Precision across Childhood and Young Adulthood
Iryna Schommartz, Angela M. Kaindl, Claudia Buss, Yee Lee Shing
Childhood is a period when memory consolidation and knowledge base undergo rapid changes. The present study examined short-delay (overnight) and long-delay (after a 2-week-period) consolidation of new information either congruent or incongruent with prior knowledge in typically developing younger 6-to-8-year-old children (n = 32), older 9-to-11-year-old children (n = 33), and 18-to-30-year-old young adults (n = 39). Both memory accessibility (cued recall of objects) and precision (precision of objects placement) of initially well-learned object-scene pairs were measured. Our results showed that overnight, memory accessibility declined similarly in all age groups; memory precision improved more in younger children compared to older children and even declined in young adults. After a 2-week-period, both memory accessibility and precision became worse. Specifically, while age groups showed similar decline in memory accessibility, precision decline was less in younger children than in older children and young adults. The decline in accessibility and precision for incongruent information was particularly strong in adults. Taken together, our results showed that, for initially well-learned information, younger children have robust memory consolidation, despite their overall lower mnemonic performance compared to older children and young adults, which is potentially crucial for stable and precise knowledge accumulation early on in development.