Developmental Changes in Event Memory


  • The research was supported by a University of Denver Biomedical Research Grant awarded to M. J. Farrar and G. S. Goodman and by a NIMH Postdoctoral Grant and a University of Florida Faculty support grant awarded to M. J. Farrar. Special thanks go to Daniel MacIntosh and Christine Aman for research assistance. We also thank Bonnie Buddin and Mary Jo Jones. Marshall M. Haith provided valuable comments on this project during its inception. Four anonymous reviewers offered helpful suggestions.

Requests for reprints should be sent to the first author, Psychology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


Do developmental differences exist in children's organization of event memories? We explored this question by examining children's recall of standard features of a repeated event versus features that deviated from that event. 4- and 7-year-old children experienced an initially unfamiliar laboratory event (standard event) 1 or 3 times. Following the last visit, deviations from the standard event were introduced (deviation event). Children's recall was assessed 1 week later under free recall and contextual recall conditions. Younger children had more difficulty than older children distinguishing between the standard and deviation visits. That is, 4-year-olds were more confused regarding which event features occurred in the different event visits. 7-year-olds, in contrast, did a better job of correctly remembering the features of the standard and deviation visits. Implications for developmental changes in the organization of general and specific event memory are discussed.