Beyond the Gong: Relations Between Elicited Imitation Performance at 20-40 Months of Age and Memory at 6 YearsTracy DeBoer, Carol L. Cheatham, Emily Stark, & Patricia J. Bauer Institute of Child Development University of Minnesota
Wave 1: Performance on 4-Step Sequences:
- At 20 months of age, children’s performance on 3-exposure was related to performance on 1-exposure (ps <.05)
Wave 2: Performance on 6-Year Tasks:
- All scores of children’s performance on the Children’s Memory Scale and Woodcock Johnson were within the normal range.
Relations Between Concurrent Tasks at 6 years:
Performance on the Children’s Memory Scale was significantly correlated with our laboratory measure of memory (i.e., 9-step picture sequencing). However, performance on the Woodcock Johnson III speed of processing tasks were not related to performance on the 9-step picture sequencing task.
Bolded correlations are illustrated in scatterplots below; + = p <. 10, * = p < .05.
- Elicited/deferred imitation is a commonly used measure of preverbal infants’ explicit memory abilities.
- In this paradigm, infants observe a sequence of actions demonstrated by an experimenter and are subsequently given the opportunity to reproduce the modeled actions either immediately (elicited imitation), after a delay (deferred imitation), or both.
- This technique is accepted by many as a nonverbal analogue to explicit memory report (Bauer, 2002)
- Performance is at least partially dependent on regions of the medial temporal lobe (Carver & Bauer, 1999, 2001; McDonough et al., 1995).
- Additionally, this paradigm has been used to assess memory in infants at-risk for memory impairment (e.g., infants of diabetic mothers, DeBoer et al., in press, and infants born preterm, Cheatham, 2004).
- However, to date, relations between performance on the elicited imitation paradigm and memory performance later in life have not been tested.
- In this investigation we examined the long-term predictability of the elicited imitation paradigm from 20 months to 6 years of age.
- Thirty-five children completed both waves of data collection (18 female, 17 male)
- 1 male was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder between waves 1and 2. His data were not part of the current report.
- Mean age at Wave 1 = 20 months (SD = 27 days)
- Mean age at Wave 2 = 6 years, 7 months (SD = 2 months, 3 weeks)
Relations Between Imitation Performance at Wave 1 and Performance on Tasks at Wave 2:Bolded correlations are illustrated in scatterplots below; + = p <. 10, * = p < .05, ** = p < .01
- Results indicate that performance on the elicited imitation task during toddlerhood is related to some aspects of memory performance at 6 years of age.
- Specifically, both measures of standardized memory performance and measures of speed of processing correlated with imitation performance.
- 4-step elicited imitation performance was also correlated with 9-step picture sequencing imitation performance suggesting that these may be analogous measures of memory in older children.
- Moreover, concurrent measures of 9-step picture sequencing were related to performance on the Children’s Memory Scale.
- These findings add support to the argument that recall abilities are reliable and robust by 20 months of age (Bauer, 2002) and that elicited imitation is an appropriate task to index these abilities in preverbal children.
- Wave 1 @ 20 months: Immediate Imitation of 8 4-Step Sequences
- 4 sequences were demonstrated 3 times, 4 sequences were demonstrated 1 time (exposure sessions were 1 week apart)
- Each sequence consisted of
- a baseline measure
- demonstration (i.e., modeling) by the experimenter
- immediate imitation
- Consistent with previous research, two measures were indicative of recall: 1) individual target actions and 2) pairs of target actions in the correct temporal order
- Wave 2 @ 6 years: Follow-up Standardized Memory Assessment and Memory Battery
- Standardized memory assessment (the Children’s Memory Scale®; Cohen, 1997)
Total Scaled Score
- Visual Memory: Memory for Dot Locations, Recognition Memory for Faces
- Verbal Memory: Story Recall, Memory for Word Pairs
- Attention/Concentration: Numbers (digit span forward and backwards), Sequences (speed & accuracy of familiar sequences: e.g., alphabet)
- Learning: Learning Dot Locations, Learning for Word Pairs
- Speed of processing (Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities III®; Woodcock et al., 2001)
Visual Matching, Pair Cancellation, Rapid Picture Naming
- 9step picture sequencing task (Phill, 2001)
Immediate, 10-minute Deferred
- Bauer, P. J. (2002). Early memory development. In Goswami, U. (Ed). Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development. Blackwell handbooks of developmental psychology. (pp. 127-146).Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
- Carver, L. J., & Bauer, P. J. (1999). When the event is more than the sum of its parts: Nine-month-olds’ long term ordered recall. Memory, 7, 147-174.
- Carver, L. J., & Bauer, P. J. (2001). The dawning of a past: The emergence of long-term explicit memory in infancy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 726-745.
- Cheatham, C.L. (2004). Recall deficits in infants born preterm: Sources of individual differences. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
- Cohen, M. J. (1997). Children’s Memory Scale. San Antonio, TX : Psychological Corp.
- DeBoer, T., Wewerka, S., Bauer, P. J., Georgieff, M. K., & Nelson, C. A. (in press). Declarative memory performance in infants of diabetic mothers at 1 year of age. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.
- McDonough, L., Mandler, J. M., McKee, R. D., & Squire, L. R. (1995). The deferred imtiation task as a nonverbal measure of declarative memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 92, 7580-7584.
- Phill, C. (2001). What’s in a picture? Enabling relations, event recall, and stimulus type. Unpublished manuscript. University of Minnesota.
- Woodcock R. W., McGrew, K. S., Mather, N. (2001). Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III®). Riverside Publishing.
- The authors would like to thank the Members of the Cognition in Transition Laboratory for their continued support of this project and the families who donated their time for this research endeavor. This research was supported by a grant from the NICHD to Patricia J. Bauer (HD28425), and Small grants from both the Institute of Child Development and Center for Neurobehavioral Development at the University of Minnesota to Tracy DeBoer and Carol Cheatham.
- Please send comments or questions to the first author at [email protected]
Note: The one data point illustrating performance of 1 individual target action on the immediate imitation task was not 2 SD below the mean. Significant results remained the same even when this data point was removed.