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Memory Binding in Early Childhood: Evidence for a Retrieval Deficit


  • We would like to thank Hannah Bingman and Wendy Shallcross for their assistance in testing participants, and Stacie Crawley, Julie Sluzenski, and Laura Sywulak for their conversations pertaining to project development.

concerning this article should be addressed to Marianne E. Lloyd, Department of Psychology, Seton Hall University, 400 South Orange Ave., South Orange, NJ 07079. Electronic mail may be sent to


Previous research has suggested that performance for items requiring memory-binding processes improves between ages 4 and 6 (J. Sluzenski, N. Newcombe, & S. L. Kovacs, 2006). The present study suggests that much of this improvement is due to retrieval, as opposed to encoding, deficits for 4-year-olds. Four- and 6-year-old children (N = 48 per age) were given objects, backgrounds, and object + background combinations to remember. Younger children performed equivalently to 6-year-olds during a working memory task for all types of memory questions but were impaired during a long-term memory task for the object + background combinations. Furthermore, this deficit was completely due to differences in false alarm rates, suggesting that separate analyses of hits and false alarms may be preferable to corrected recognition scores when studying memory development.