The effect of experience on children's ability to show response and place learning


Correspondence should be addressed to Jessie Bullens, Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Research Institute, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands (e-mail:


From a developmental perspective, it has been reasoned that over the course of development children make differential use of available landmarks in the surroundings to orient in space. The present study examined whether children can learn to apply different spatial strategies, focusing on different landmark cues. Children aged 7 and 10 years were tested on an object-location memory task in which they learned a location relative to a direct cue or to indirect cues. Both age groups performed equally well on the direct test condition. However, children 7 years of age had difficulties with orienting relative to the indirect landmarks. Interestingly, their performance increased significantly with more relevant experience. Different explanations for these findings are discussed.