Examining factors associated with visuospatial working memory development from infancy through the preschool years
Barr, Rachel F
In early childhood, the development of executive functioning (EF) takes place. This complex system comprised of working memory, inhibitory control, and shifting is crucial for successful cognitive and socio-emotional development. A subcomponent of working memory is visuospatial working memory (VSWM). VSWM is defined as maintaining, updating, and manipulating visual and spatial information in the short-term, while ignoring irrelevant yet potentially salient distracting information. This ability emerges early in infancy and develops throughout the preschool years.This dissertation examines the development of VSWM of children between 18-months and 5-years of age on several tasks with varying levels of complexity. Both established object-based and newly developed touchscreen tasks are considered. Chapter two examines factors associated with performance on a simple 3-location object occlusion VSWM task, called Hide the Pots, by 18- and 24-month-olds. In study 1, infants performed significantly worse after a 10s delay than after a 2s delay. Performance was associated with individual differences in productive vocabulary. In study 2 removing color as a cue did not impact performance by 18-month-olds. Chapter 3 examines factors associated with performance on a complex complex 8-location object occlusion VSWM task called Spin the Pots in toddlerhood through preschool. There were age-related changes between 2- and 4-years of age; 4-year-olds performed significantly better on the task with girls out-performing boys. Chapter four developed a new task, Find the Stars, based upon the CANTAB Spatial Working Memory task with 3- to 5-years to provide a nonverbal and age-appropriate touchscreen-delivered measure of VSWM. The extent to which age and cognitive load effect performance on the working memory task and its’ relationship to inhibitory control, motor-spatial imitation, and parent report EF measures were assessed. There were age-related changes, associations on all three tasks, and a relationship between performance and parent report EF measures.The present dissertation demonstrates multiple factors associated with developmental changes in VSWM in the first five years of life. They include delay, vocabulary, visual perceptual cues, cognitive load, and other EF components. These findings have important implications for the assessment of VSWM and factors that relate to the trajectory of VSWM in early childhood.
Embargo Lift Date
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
INFLUENCE OF EARLY ENVIRONMENTAL VARIATION ON MEMORY DEVELOPMENT: EXAMINING BILINGUALISM DURING INFANCY Brito, Natalie Hiromi (Georgetown University, 2013)Successful memory performance is contingent on a balance between remembering the specific features of an event and applying that knowledge across different cues and contexts. Memory flexibility is necessary for declarative ...
Are Teenagers and Young Adults Really So Different? Examining the Factors Associated with Unintended Pregnancy Among Women in their Teens and Early Twenties Harbin, Vanessa Gamble (Georgetown University, 2012)Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended (Finer and Zolna 2011). While much attention has been paid by researchers and policymakers to the factors associated with unintended pregnancy rates in teenagers, ...