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Development of Temporal-Reconstructive Abilities


  • This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant 0241558. We are grateful to the teachers and children of the Oberlin City Schools, First Church Nursery, and Oberlin Cooperative Preschool. We also wish to thank Diana Bagocius, Jessica DeLia, Laura Hughes, Anna Levin, Hailey MacNear, Lee McKeever, Julie Medalie, Evan Roth-Howe, and Elizabeth Shuey for their assistance in conducting demonstrations, testing children, and scoring data. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding concerning this article should be addressed to William J. Friedman, Department of Psychology, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074. Electronic mail may be sent to


In a study of the ability to reconstruct the times of past events, 86 children from 4 to 13 years recalled the times of 2 in-class demonstrations that had occurred 3 months earlier and judged the times of hypothetical events. Many of the abilities needed to reconstruct the times of events were present by 6 years, including the capacity to interpret many temporally relevant cues, but there were substantial changes well into middle childhood in the availability of temporally useful episodic information. Children were poor at remembering the events' proximity or order with respect to a major holiday, but the order of the 2 target events was well recalled by 6 years.