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Three-, 4- and 5-year-old children were asked to report something that they did do yesterday and something that they were going to do tomorrow. They were also asked to recall events that had not occurred yesterday, and predict events that would not occur tomorrow. In two studies these simple questions revealed striking age differences in the ability to report personal events from the past and the future. Only a minority of 3-year-olds but a majority of the older children were able to appropriately answer these questions. These findings substantiate the proposal that the ability to recall past events and the ability to predict future events (i.e., mental time travel), emerge in tandem between the ages of 3 and 5 years.
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Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372
Recalling yesterday and predicting tomorrow
Janie Busby, Thomas Suddendorf
School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia
Three-, 4- and 5-year-old children were asked to report something that they did do yesterday and
something that they were going to do tomorrow. They were also asked to recall events that had not
occurred yesterday, and predict events that would not occur tomorrow. In two studies these simple
questions revealed striking age differences in the ability to report personal events from the past and the
future. Only a minority of 3-year-olds but a majority of the older children were able to appropriately
answer these questions. These findings substantiate the proposal that the ability to recall past events
and the ability to predict future events (i.e., mental time travel), emerge in tandem between the ages
of 3 and 5 years.
© 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Episodic memory; Anticipation; Amnesia; Mental time travel
Much of adult behaviour is dictated not only by current context, but also by recollections
of past events and anticipation of future scenarios (Atance & O’Neill, 2001;Suddendorf
& Corballis, 1997;Tulving, 2002;Wheeler, Stuss, & Tulving, 1997). Debate about mental
mals have this capacity (Clayton, Bussey, & Dickinson, 2003;Hampton & Schwartz, 2004;
Suddendorf & Busby, 2003;Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997), has also surged in the devel-
opmental arena, with researchers asking when children become capable of MTT (Atance
& O’Neill, 2001;Moore & Lemmon, 2001;Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997;Wheeler et al.,
MTT into the past is based on episodic memory, a subtype of the declarative (or explicit)
memory system (e.g., Squire, 1992;Squire, Knowlton, & Musen, 1993), and is defined
Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 7 3365 6774; fax: +61 7 3365 4466.
E-mail address: (J. Busby).
0885-2014/$ see front matter © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372 363
as the recall of previously experienced events, accompanied by a sense of reliving that
particular event “as happening to me”. Episodic memory can be dissociated from the other
component of declarative memory, semantic memory (general knowledge or facts about the
world), both through impairment and task manipulations (Klein, Loftus, & Kihlstrom, 2002;
Tulving, 1985; see review by Gardiner, 2002; and meta-analysis by Gardiner, Ramponi,
& Richardson-Klavehn, 2002). Recent literature proposes that episodic memory may not
emerge until 3 to 5 years of age (e.g., Perner & Ruffman, 1995;Pillemer & White, 1989;
Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997;Wheeler et al., 1997).
Evidencein support ofthis claim includesthe phenomenon ofinfantile amnesia (Dudycha
& Dudycha, 1933;Kihlstrom & Harackiewicz, 1982;Sheingold & Tenney, 1982). One
possible explanation for infantile amnesia is that only by 3 to 4 years of age does episodic
memory mature, allowing events experienced after this time to be episodically encoded and
thus reconstructed at a later date (Pillemer & White, 1989;Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997).
Further, young children’s own reports of past events seem to be qualitatively different from
those of older children and adults (Fivush, Gray, & Fromhoff, 1987;Fivush & Hamond,
1990;Todd & Perlmutter, 1980), lacking temporal and causal structure (Fivush, Haden,
& Adam, 1995;Pillemer, Picariello, & Pruett, 1994), and being heavily reliant on cues
from the interviewer (see reviews by Howe & Courage, 1997;Pillemer & White, 1989).
Evidence from assessments of free recall, source memory (how you know what you know)
and reality monitoring by preschool children also suggest that the ability to recall past events
is undergoing significant changes during this period (Ceci & Howe, 1978;Ceci, Ross, &
Toglia, 1987;Gopnik & Graf, 1988;Ornstein, Gordon, & Larus, 1992;Perner & Ruffman,
1995;Sodian & Wimmer, 1987;Wimmer, Hogrefe, & Perner, 1988; see review by Ceci &
Bruck, 1993).
The pre-experiencing of possible future events, episodic future thinking, can be distin-
guished from script-like (semantic) knowledge about the future in much the same way as
episodic and semantic memory can be distinguished (Atance & O’Neill, 2001; Suddendorf
& Busby, 2003;Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997). Hudson, Shapiro, and Sosa (1995), for
example, found that children’s ability to plan for a specific future event improved between
3 and 5 years of age, but their ability to report a script (“what usually happens”) for that
event did not change. Atance and O’Neill (2001) found significant gains during the fourth
year of life in verbal referencing of the future when constructing plans. There is also evi-
dence that during the preschool years children become better at selecting delayed future
rewards, perhaps based on their ability to conceptualise that future event (Moore, Barresi, &
Thompson, 1998;Thompson, Barresi, & Moore, 1997). These findings support a devel-
opmental differentiation between episodic and semantic constructions in the future that
parallels that reported above for the past.
In line with this parallel, Suddendorf and Corballis (1997) proposed that both mental
time travel into the past and into the future (i.e., episodic memory and episodic future think-
ing) draw on the same mechanisms and depend on the development of the same set of basic
capacities including recursion, self-awareness, metarepresentation, and the ability to disso-
ciate current from imagined states (see also Suddendorf & Busby, 2003). Some empirical
support for a link between MTT into the past and future comes from neuropsychology.
Tulving (1985; Tulving, Hayman, & Macdonald, 1991) and Klein et al. (2002) presented a
series of recall questions to their patients K.C. and D.B. These patients suffer from severe
364 J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372
episodic memory impairment, while displaying relatively spared semantic memory. They
were unable to answer simple questions about their own past experiences (e.g., “what did
you do yesterday?”), although these same patients could answer general knowledge ques-
tions about the past. Similarly, they were unable to report events that might occur to them in
the future, although again these patients had general knowledge about the future (Klein et
al., 2002; Tulving, 1985; Tulving et al., 1991). This simple questioning thus revealed par-
allel impairments in MTT into the future and MTT into the past, suggesting a link between
the two.
When can children report events from the past and predict future events in such basic
interviews and do these abilities emerge in tandem? To our knowledge only one study
has directly asked young children similar questions, although only about the past. Friedman
foundthat children aged 4 years and over couldcorrectly report a specific event thatoccurred
to them “yesterday” (amongst questions about other time spans, Friedman, 1992). Thus, it
remains unknown whether younger children can respond appropriately to such questions.
We are not aware of any study asking such questions about the future, let alone asking the
same children parallel questions about past and future. So we set out to do so.
We asked children aged 3 to 5 years to report events from their past (yesterday) and
to predict future events (tomorrow). Questions like “what did you do yesterday?” replicate
everyday conversational patterns between parents and children and may lead to the expecta-
tion that even very young children can reply appropriately. On the other hand, the evidence
reviewedabovesuggeststhat MTT emergesrelativelylate in developmentandhence predicts
that only older children (of about 4 to 5 years of age) would be able to answer appropriately.
If MTT into the past and MTT into the future draw on the same mechanisms one would
expect both types of questions to be equally difficult and performance to be associated.
We also asked children negation questions about the past and the future. We reasoned that
when children become capable of projecting themselves mentally into the past and future,
they should be able not only to report on what happened (or will happen), but also on what
did not happen (or will not happen). We might hence expect to find capacities similar to
those on the positive questions. Thus, we decided to ask them to name events they had not
experienced yesterday, and would not experience tomorrow. Although by 3 and 4 years of
age children spontaneously discuss non-events (Todd & Perlmutter, 1980), little is known
about the development of children’s ability to report events that did not or will not occur.
Therefore, the current studies simply asked young children to report events that did or did
not occur yesterday and events that they did or did not anticipate to occur tomorrow.
1. Experiment 1
1.1. Method
1.1.1. Participants
Forty children aged 3 years old (36–47 months) and 4 years old (48–59) (n=20 per age
group) were recruited from the Early Cognitive Development Unit database in Brisbane,
Australia. Three-year-olds were on average 40.3 months of age (S.D. =3.8 months; 10 boys,
10 girls) and 4-year-olds 52.8 months (S.D.= 3.9 months; 8 boys, 12 girls).
J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372 365
1.1.2. Procedure
Children were interviewed in a testing room at the University of Queensland with the
child’s parent/s present. Children were asked the following four recall questions, “can you
tell me something that you did yesterday?” (yesterday positive question) “can you tell
me something that you didn’t do yesterday?” (yesterday negative question), “can you tell
me something you are going to do tomorrow?” (tomorrow positive question) and “can
you tell me something you are not going to do tomorrow?” (tomorrow negative question).
The order of presentation of past and future questions was counterbalanced across children.
Within each tense type the positive question was always asked first, followed by the negative
question (pilot tests revealed children tended to list events which did occur before discussing
events which did not). If the child responded with “I don’t know” or a similar statement,
they were prompted with the question again. If the child produced a general response
(e.g., “I played”) they were prompted for a more specific answer (e.g., “what did you play
1.1.3. Scoring
Children’s responses were coded in two different ways. Firstly the child was scored as
to whether they could generate a specific event in answer to each question, regardless of
whether this event did or would actually occur. The child did not need to produce an entire
sentence, rather just a term that was interpretable as an activity (e.g., “painted”). Scoring
did not depend on whether the event occurred regularly or rarely. The child’s response to
each question was also evaluated as either correct or incorrect by the parent. The parent
indicatedto the researcherthat the child’sanswerwas likelycorrect or incorrect (i.e.,whether
it occurred or did not occur on that specific day) using non-verbal signals (the parent sat
behind the child, and therefore their responses were only visible to the researcher).
1.2. Results and discussion
Preliminary analyses revealed no gender differences on any of the questions, thus the
data were collapsed across gender.
Forty-five percent of 3-year-olds and 65% of 4-year-olds produced an answer to the
yesterday question. Similarly, 60% of 3-year-olds and 80% of 4-year-olds could do so
on the tomorrow question. These age differences were not significant (yesterday χ2(1,
N=40)=1.616, p=.204; tomorrow χ2(1, N=40) =1.905, p= .168).
Producing an answer does, of course, not mean that the child did in fact recall or pre-
dict an event that did or would actually occur. Fig. 1 displays the percentage of 3- and
4-year-old children reporting events from yesterday and tomorrow that parents judged to
be correct. More than half of 4-year-olds (55% and 65% on past and future questions,
respectively) generated answers parents judged as correct, compared with a minority of
3-year-olds (30% on each question). This age difference was significant for the future
question (χ2(1, N=40)=6.465, p=.011) but failed to reach significance for the past ques-
tion (χ2(1, N=40)=2.558, p=.11). Examples of children’s responses are provided in
Table 1.
As predicted, there was a significant positive correlation between performances on the
yesterday and tomorrow questions (ϕ(40) = .341, p= .031). Overall, there was no suggestion
366 J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372
Fig. 1. Percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds producing a correct answer in response to the yesterday and tomorrow
event questions in Experiment 1.
in the data that questions about the past were easier than questions about the future, or vice
versa (Sign test p=1,N= 40). These findings thus support the hypothesis that the ability
to report events in the past and the future develop in parallel. In sum, the results suggest
that although 3-year-olds can produce answers to questions about events displaced in time
much like 4-year-olds, their responses do not appear to reflect actual recall or prediction, at
least as judged by parents.
In contrast to the positive questions, 3-year-olds in this study had some problems gen-
erating answers to negative questions (examples are shown in Table 1). Significantly more
4-year-olds than 3-year-olds could produce events that did not or will not occur, with 22%
of 3-year-olds and 70% of 4-year-olds responding to the yesterday non-event question and
25% and 80% responding to the tomorrow non-event question (yesterday negative χ2(1,
N=40)=12.130, p<.001; tomorrow negative χ2(1, N=38) = 8.674, p= .003). A similar
pattern of results emerged when parents judged the events as correct or incorrect. Only 20%
(past) and 11% (future) of 3-year-olds produced answers to the non-event questions that
parents judged to be correct. By contrast, 60% of 4-year-olds did so on both questions. This
age difference is significant (see Fig. 2; yesterday negative question χ2(1, N=40) = 6.667,
p= .01; tomorrow negative question χ2(1, N=38) =9.731, p= .002). There were no signifi-
cant differences between scores on positive and negative questions. These findings suggest
that it is not until 4 years of age that a majority of children can generate a response (whether
Table 1
Examples of children’s correct and incorrect responses to each question type in Experiment 1, including child’s
age and gender
Question type Child’s age Gender Response Correct/incorrect
Yesterday +ve 3;0 Male “Went on a swing” Correct
Yesterday +ve 3;0 Male “The beach” Incorrect
Yesterday ve 4;0 Female “Didn’t go shopping” Correct
Yesterday ve 4;2 Female “Didn’t do drawing” Incorrect
Tomorrow +ve 4;0 Female “Play Uno with mummy” Correct
Tomorrow +ve 4;0 Male “Go swimming” Incorrect
Tomorrow ve 4;0 Male “Not going to the big slippery slide” Correct
Tomorrow ve 4;5 Male (Won’t) “play in the toy room” Incorrect
J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372 367
Fig. 2. Percentage of 3- and 4-year-olds producing a correct answer in response to the yesterday and tomorrow
non-event questions in Experiment 1.
correct or incorrect) to a non-event question, a pattern that suggests that the negative request
itself may be difficult for younger children to understand. By age 4, however, the results
suggest that children can report appropriate past and future events as well as name events
that did not happen yesterday and are not likely to occur tomorrow.
2. Experiment 2
In Experiment 2 we attempted to replicate the findings of Experiment 1, and introduced
three minor amendments. In Experiment 1 children’s responses were scored by parents as
correct or incorrect using non-verbal signals to the researcher. To minimise the possibility of
children noting that signal a less intrusive scoring method was implemented in Experiment
2. Another issue in the first study was the prompting schedule used with the children, which
was open to variation by children’s unexpected responses. In Experiment 2 this prompting
schedule was standardised to allow a maximum of two repetitions of the question. Finally,
given that the oldest age group in Experiment 1, 4-year-olds, were not performing at ceiling,
a 5-year-old age group was also included in Experiment 2.
2.1. Method
2.1.1. Participants
Forty-eight children aged 3 years old (39–45 months), 4 years old (51–57) and 5 years
old (63–69) (n=16 per age group) were recruited from the Early Cognitive Development
Unit database. Three-year-olds were on average 41.4 months of age (S.D.= 1.7 months; 6
boys, 10 girls), 4-year-olds 53.6 months (S.D. =2.3 months; 7 boys, 9 girls) and 5-year-olds
64.9 months (S.D.=1.5 months; 7 boys, 9 girls).
2.1.2. Procedure
The procedure was implemented as described in Experiment 1, excepting the following
changes. Before the experiment began parents were given a response sheet and appropriate
instructions. Parents recorded on the response sheet their child’s answer to each question in
note form, and whether they believed it was a correct or incorrect answer. The researcher’s
368 J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372
Fig. 3. Percentage of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds producing a correct answer in response to the yesterday and tomorrow
event questions in Experiment 2.
script was also standardised so that two prompts were given if the child did not respond to
the initial question. Children’s answers were coded as in Experiment 1.
2.2. Results and discussion
Preliminary analyses revealed no gender differences on any of the questions, thus the
data were collapsed across gender.
All three age groups performed close to ceiling on the yesterday event question when
parentaljudgements of event accuracywas ignored, with 94% of 3-year-olds,80% of 4-year-
olds and 100% of 5-year-olds reporting an event. In response to the tomorrow question, 69%
of 3-year-olds, 88% of 4-year-olds and 100% of 5-year-olds produced a specific event. This
was a significant improvement in performance from 3- to 5-year-olds on the tomorrow ques-
tion (χ2(1, N= 32)= 5.926, p=.015), but not the yesterday question (χ2(2, N= 47) = 4.136,
Fig. 3 displays the percentage of children reporting events judged as likely by parents.
The results closely replicated Experiment 1, with 25% and 31% of 3-year-olds and 56% and
69% of 4-year-olds correctly reporting events from yesterday and tomorrow. Seventy-five
percent and 63% of 5-year-olds correctly produced answers to the yesterday and tomor-
row questions. Four-year-olds significantly outperformed 3-year-olds on both the yesterday
question (χ2(1, N=31)=3.895, p=.048) and the tomorrow question (χ2(1, N=32) = 4.50,
p=.034),butthere were no significant differences between the 4- and 5-year-oldage groups.
Unlike the first experiment, responses to the past and future questions were not sig-
nificantly related (ϕ(47)=.145, p=.319, this was also non-significant when only 3- and
4-year-olds were included in the analysis). However, as in Experiment 1, participants did
not perform better on past than future questions, or vice versa (Sign test p=1,N= 47). Thus,
although a significant correlation between the two questions was not found in this second
experiment, there is again support for the hypothesis that the ability to report events of the
past and of the future emerge in parallel.
In response to the negative questions, 75%, 63% and 87% of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds,
respectively, produced a non-event in the past, compared with 53%, 67% and 93% in the
future.This differenceacross age groupswas only significanton the future question,between
J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372 369
Fig. 4. Percentage of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds producing a correct answer in response to the yesterday and tomorrow
non-event questions in Experiment 2.
3- and 5-year-olds (future χ2(1, N=30) = 6.136, p= .013; past χ2(2, N= 47) = 2.382,
p=.304). The high percentage of 3-year-olds producing non-events for the past in this
second study is responsible for the different pattern of performance across the age groups,
and could be attributed to the more numerous prompts given by the interviewer in this
study compared with the first. When parental judgements of likelihood were taken into
account, 56% and 27% of 3-year-olds responded with correct answers to the past and
future questions, respectively, compared with 44% and 60% of 4-year-olds and 66% and
87% of 5-year-olds (see Fig. 4). On the tomorrow non-event question, there was a sig-
nificant difference between 3- and 5-year-olds (χ2(1, N=30) = 10.995, p= .001), with the
improvement between 3- and 4-year-olds approaching significance (χ2(1, N=30) = 3.394,
p= .065). However, there was no difference in performance between any of the age groups
on the yesterday non-event question (χ2(2, N=47) = 1.653, p= .437). The negative ques-
tions did not reveal a significant difference in performance between 4- and 5-year-old
children.There were nosignificant differencesin performance betweenpositiveand negative
3. General discussion
This study explored how preschool children answer simple questions about what hap-
pened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Consistent with predictions, a majority
of 4-year-olds, but only a minority of 3-year-olds, were able to correctly report events they
had experienced yesterday and would experience tomorrow. Three-year-olds were able to
report events in response to the questions, but the events they reported were often incorrect.
There was no evidence for an improvement in reporting of events between 4 and 5 years of
There are at least two apparent explanations for the findings. It may be that only 4- to
5-year-old children are able to use MTT. The 3-year-olds in this study thus were unable
to report events that did or will occur as they could not episodically recall past events and
predict future events (Suddendorf & Busby, 2003;Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997;Wheeler
et al., 1997). This is consistent with evidence of source memory and free recall deficits
during the early preschool years (Ceci & Howe, 1978;Gopnik & Graf, 1988;Perner &
370 J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372
Ruffman, 1995;Sodian & Wimmer, 1987;Wimmer et al., 1988). The results also suggest
that the ability to report events from the past and the future develops at the same time,
consistent with the hypothesis that MTT into the future and the past use similar cognitive
resources (Suddendorf & Corballis, 1997). According to this account, 3-year-olds’ incorrect
reports would reflect their inability to mentally travel in time. Their responses may be little
more than guesses prompted by the question, a legitimate possibility given the very low
threshold set for what qualified as reporting of an event.
An alternative account of the data, however, is that 3-year-olds have a poor understanding
of the two temporal location terms used in the study, “yesterday” and “tomorrow”. It is
well known that children’s understanding of temporal concepts is undergoing key changes
during the preschool years (see review by Friedman, 2003; also Harner, 1975, 1982), so
it could be that 3-year-olds interpret the terms “yesterday” and “tomorrow” differently,
perhaps as referring to any temporal displacement. They may thus actually recollect or
anticipate an episode, but merely fail to report events that fall into the time frame we
consider these words to refer to. This explanation thus suggests that children may travel
mentally in time before they have acquired an appropriate semantic understanding of these
temporal terms. This would mean, of course, that a methodology that is based on semantic
understandingoftemporalterms cannot unearth such early competence. Non-verbal designs
would be needed (Suddendorf & Busby, 2005). The same restrictions apply to interpreting
the poor performance of 3-year-olds on the negative questions. Again, it is not clear whether
3-year-olds perform poorly because they cannot yet travel mentally in time, or because
they could not yet understand the question appropriately. The current study can thus not
decide between the two explanations discussed for the poor performance of the youngest
However, on the basis of the current study we can draw conclusions about the capacities
of 4- and 5-year-old children. We have established that by age 4 and 5 children are quite
capable of reporting events that have happened yesterday and will happen tomorrow. They
appear equally capable of mental time travel into the future and the past. Older preschool
children were equally competent at reporting events that did not occur yesterday or are
unlikely to occur tomorrow. At this age, at least, they do seem to have mental access to the
past and future.
These studies provide the first attempt to directly ask young children to travel mentally
into both the past and the future. The findings support previous research that suggests that
the preschool years see the emergence of episodic memory and episodic future thinking, and
provide some evidence that these two capacities emerge in tandem. Although the current
findings need to be integrated with other, less linguistically based measures, they represent
an important starting point in the development of the assessment of mental time travel in
We would like to thank the parents and children who participated in these studies, and
two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.
J. Busby, T. Suddendorf / Cognitive Development 20 (2005) 362–372 371
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... Similarly, older children sometimes narrate more episodic-like events than younger children (Coughlin et al., 2014), as adolescents do relative to their younger peers (Willoughby et al., 2012). Recollection of past events follows a somewhat parallel trajectory (Busby and Suddendorf, 2005;Hayne et al., 2011;Coughlin et al., 2014), consistent with a strong association between episodic memory and EFT (Addis, 2018). ...
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Episodic future thinking (EFT) is the ability to subjectively pre-experience a specific future event. Future-oriented cognition in young children positively predicts physical health and financial status later in life. Can EFT be improved in children, even temporarily? Developmental research emphasizes the importance of thinking about one’s own near future to enhance EFT, whereas research in adults suggests benefits reside in constructing a richly detailed event. We bridged the two perspectives to examine whether a procedure, the “episodic specificity induction” (ESI), could be adapted to encourage an episodic mode of thinking in children, benefitting performance on a variety of subsequent EFT tasks. The present study implemented a child-friendly ESI in which children mentally simulated a future event and were probed for specific details about it. We randomly assigned 66 children aged 6 and 7 years to one of two conditions: (1) ESI, in which children imagined “having breakfast tomorrow” in detail, describing surroundings, people, and actions, or (2) a Control condition (i.e., no construction), in which children simply viewed and described a picture of another child having breakfast. Children then completed a series of future thinking tasks assessing prospective memory, recollection/imagination of events, delay of gratification, and planning. Our ESI was successful in promoting the construction of a detailed event, and subsequently increasing the number of details of recollected and imagined events on an outcome task as compared to a control condition. Nonetheless, the effect of ESI was smaller than expected – a finding that fits with recent work suggesting that such interventions may be too cognitively taxing for young children and/or that benefits may hinge on further development in episodic processes. We discuss possible modifications to the induction and implications for EFT amelioration in young children.
... Also, the differences between the mean scores of the experimental group in the post test and follow up test of time concepts scale were not significant. (Gabriela, 2006, 1103, Bohem, 2001, Bohem, 2004 (Suddendorf, 2010), (Busby & Suddendorf, 2005), (Busby Grant& Suddendorf, 2011 (Lovell & Slater,1960, David,1972 (James B., 1970, 9- (GranrielavNelson, 2006), (Reynolds, 2003), (boehem, 2010, 3022, 1990, 1991, 2001, 2008), (Martin A., 1983), (Driot-Volels, 2003, 2016, (You Wang, 2015), (Marvin D. Wyne, 1967), (Sunddenfort, 2010), (Busby Grant & Suddenfort, 2009, 2010, (Busby Grant, 2011), (Bucher pans, 2007, (Helayan Hershhom, 2015), ...
... Children who showed self-directed behavior in the delayed self-recognition task also tended to opt for the greater future reward when presented with a choice between rewards now or later. Using quite diff erent measures, Busby and Suddendorf (2005) examined whether there would be a correlation between children's ability to recollect self-related events from the past and imagine self-relevant events in the future. Th ey found that indeed children who could do one tended to be able to do the other and that this correlation was independent of general verbal ability. ...
Children are widely celebrated for their imaginations, but developmental research on this topic has often been fragmented or narrowly focused on fantasy. However, there is growing appreciation for the role that imagination plays in cognitive and emotional development, as well as its link with children’s understanding of the real world. With their imaginations, children mentally transcend time, place, and/or circumstance to think about what might have been, plan and anticipate the future, create fictional relationships and worlds, and consider alternatives to the actual experiences of their lives. The Oxford Handbook of the Development of Imagination provides a comprehensive overview of this broad new perspective by bringing together leading researchers whose findings are moving the study of imagination from the margins of mainstream psychology to a central role in current efforts to understand human thought. The topics include fantasy-reality distinctions, pretend play, magical thinking, narrative, anthropomorphism, counterfactual reasoning, mental time travel, creativity, paracosms, imaginary companions, imagination in non-human animals, the evolution of imagination, autism, dissociation, and the capacity to derive real life resilience from imaginative experiences. Many of the chapters include discussions of the educational, clinical, and legal implications of the research findings and special attention is given to suggestions for future research.
... This developmental pattern is also supported by a handful of studies that have assessed episodic foresight using more direct verbal methods with young children (e.g. asking the child to describe 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow' events [25,26]. The reviewed work indicates there is an emergence of-and improvements in-behaviours consistent with future planning and episodic foresight between the ages of 3 and 5 years. ...
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Thinking about possibilities plays a critical role in the choices humans make throughout their lives. Despite this, the influence of individuals' ability to consider what is possible on culture has been largely overlooked. We propose that the ability to reason about future possibilities or prospective cognition, has consequences for cultural change, possibly facilitating the process of cumulative cultural evolution. In particular, by considering potential future costs and benefits of specific behaviours, prospective cognition may lead to a more flexible use of cultural behaviours. In species with limited planning abilities, this may lead to the development of cultures that promote behaviours with future benefits, circumventing this limitation. Here, we examine these ideas from a comparative perspective, considering the relationship between human and nonhuman assessments of future possibilities and their cultural capacity to invent new solutions and improve them over time. Given the methodological difficulties of assessing prospective cognition across species, we focus on planning, for which we have the most data in other species. Elucidating the role of prospective cognition in culture will help us understand the variability in when and how we see culture expressed, informing ongoing debates, such as that surrounding which social learning mechanisms underlie culture. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Thinking about possibilities: mechanisms, ontogeny, functions and phylogeny’.
In the past several decades, the experimental method has lent deep insights into economics. One area that has contributed is the experimental study of children, where advances as varied as the evolution of human behaviors that shape markets and institutions to how early life influences shape later life outcomes, have been explored. We first develop a framework for economic preference measurement that provides a lens into how to interpret data from experiments with children. Next, we survey work that provides general empirical insights within our framework and provide a comprehensive summary of experimental methods used with children. Finally, we provide 10 tips for pulling off experiments with children, including factors such as taking into account child competencies, causal identification, and logistical issues related to recruitment and implementation. We envision the experimental study of children as a high-growth research area in the coming decades as social scientists begin to more fully appreciate that children are active participants in markets who (might) respond predictably to economic incentives. (JEL C90, D11, D83, D91, J13, J16, Z13)
Much developmental (and comparative) research has used Tulving's Spoon test (i.e., whether an individual will select an item needed to solve a future problem) as the basis for designing tasks to measure episodic future thinking, defined as the capacity to mentally pre‐experience the future. There is, however, intense debate about whether these tasks successfully do so. Most notably, it has been argued that children may pass (i.e., select an item with future utility) by drawing on non‐episodic, associative processes, rather than on the capacity to represent the future, per se. Although subsequent developmental tasks have sought to address this limitation, we highlight what we argue is a more fundamental shortcoming of Spoon tasks: they prompt future‐directed action making it impossible to determine whether children have used their episodic future thinking to guide their behavior. Accordingly, we know little about children's thought about the future that is independently generated (i.e., without prompting), or autocued , and is subsequently reflected (and measurable) by children's actions. We argue that this capacity is a critical, and heretofore overlooked, transition in future‐oriented cognition that may not occur until middle childhood. We further hypothesize that it is reliant on children developing richer and more detailed future event representations, along with the necessary cognitive control to transform these representations into actions that serve to benefit their future selves. The time is ripe for researchers to explore this aspect of cognitive development and we suggest several novel approaches to do so. This article is categorized under: Cognitive Biology > Cognitive Development
Previous research demonstrates positive effects of motivational self-regulation on motivation and achievement in typically developing high school and university students. However, little is known about how well children in middle childhood or children with learning difficulties regulate their motivation in academic contexts. Therefore, we investigated how effectively N = 425 children with mild learning difficulties in middle childhood use two motivational regulation strategies across three time points (at the start and at the end of grade four; at the start of grade five). Motivational regulation strategies showed moderate positive correlations with effort expenditure. In cross-lagged path models, effort expenditure at the subsequent time point was significantly predicted by current effort expenditure and self-efficacy self-talk, but not by self-consequating after controlling for academic self-concept and interest. These findings indicate that children with mild learning difficulties in middle childhood can already effectively apply simple forms of motivational self-regulation.
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This article contains the argument that the human ability to travel mentally in time constitutes a discontinuity between ourselves and other animals. Mental time travel comprises the mental reconstruction of personal events from the past (episodic memory) and the mental construction of possible events in the future. It is not an isolated module, but depends on the sophistication of other cognitive capacities, including self-awareness, meta-representation, mental attribution, understanding the perception-knowledge relationship, and the ability to dissociate imagined mental states from one's present mental state. These capacities are also important aspects of so-called theory of mind, and they appear to mature in children at around age 4. Furthermore, mental time travel is generative, involving the combination and recombination of familiar elements, and in this respect may have been a precursor to language. Current evidence, although indirect or based on anecdote rather than on systematic study, suggests that nonhuman animals, including the great apes, are confined to a "present" that is limited by their current drive states. In contrast, mental time travel by humans is relatively unconstrained and allows a more rapid and flexible adaptation to complex, changing environments than is afforded by instincts or conventional learning. Past and future events loom large in much of human thinking, giving rise to cultural, religious, and scientific concepts about origins, destiny, and time itself.
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The authors provide a new framework that integrates autobiographical memory with other early achievements (e.g., gesturing, language, concept formation). In this theory, the emergence and early development of autobiographical memory does not require the invocation of specialized neurological or multiple memory mechanisms but rather arises as a natural consequence of developments in related domains including in the ''software'' that drives general memory functioning. In particular, autobiographical memory emerges contemporaneously with the cognitive self, a knowledge structure whose features serve to organize memories of experiences that happened to ''me.'' Because this cognitive self emerges in the 2nd year of life, the lower limit for early autobiographical memories is set at about 2 years, with subsequent accumulation of memories linked to improvements in children's ability to maintain information in storage.
This article examines the effects of memory loss on a patient's ability to remember the past and imagine the future. We present the case of D.B., who, as a result of hypoxic brain damage, suffered severe amnesia for the personally experienced past. By contrast, his knowledge of the nonpersonal past was relatively preserved. A similar pattern was evidenced in his ability to anticipate future events. Although D.B. had great difficulty imagining what his experiences might be like in the future, his capacity to anticipate issues and events in the public domain was comparable to that of neurologically healthy, age-matched controls. These findings suggest that neuropsychological dissociations between episodic and semantic memory for the past also may extend to the ability to anticipate the future.
Children between 29 and 35 months of age were interviewed in order to determine how much they remember about their past experiences, how they organize what they remember, and how long they are able to retain memories of past events. Children readily participated in the conversations, and recalled a great deal of accurate information about events they had experienced both in the recent past (up to 3 months ago) and the distant past (more than 3 months ago). The mean number of conversational turns, the number and type of questions asked (prompts, probes, yes/no), and the amount and type of information provided by the child about the events under discussion did not differ significantly for the two retention intervals. Children organized their recall in one of two ways, in a question/answer form or a narrative form, but this was neither an individual difference nor a function of retention interval. The results are discussed along with other recent findings about young children's memory abilities, and directions for future research are suggested.
Abstract The topic of multiple forms of memory is considered from a biological point of view. Fact-and-event (declarative, explicit) memory is contrasted with a collection of non conscious (non-declarative, implicit) memory abilities including skills and habits, priming, and simple conditioning. Recent evidence is reviewed indicating that declarative and non declarative forms of memory have different operating characteristics and depend on separate brain systems. A brain-systems framework for understanding memory phenomena is developed in light of lesion studies involving rats, monkeys, and humans, as well as recent studies with normal humans using the divided visual field technique, event-related potentials, and positron emission tomography (PET).
4- to 6-year-old children's understanding of inferential reasoning as a source of knowledge was studied in a series of experiments. The basic feature of the experimental paradigm was that a person was shown to be aware of premise information from which a certain conclusion follows by simple inference. When asked whether this person knew the conclusion under these conditions, most children younger than 6 years replied that he or she did not know it. These children did not seem to understand inference as a source of knowledge, although they proficiently used it as a source of knowledge. When they were asked whether they knew the conclusion, they responded affirmatively and could specify the critical fact. In contrast, young children's assessment of other persons' knowledge was strictly empiricist: other persons were attributed knowledge only when they had perceptual access to the critical fact. This failure to attribute inferential knowledge to others was independent of whether the other person was a story figure or an adult and of whether she was placed in the opposite perspective or shared the subject's perspective. Even when the other person explicitly stated the conclusion, young children disregarded inferential access and judged the conclusion to be a guess. The implications of these findings for children's developing "theories of mind" are discussed.
The present experiment examined the possibility that developmental differences in recall are due in part to older subjects using a more flexible retrieval strategy. Children aged 4, 7, and 10 years inspected a set of 25 line drawings depicting familiar objects, which could be organized into both thematic and taxonomic modes. In a training phase all subjects demonstrated that they could classify each of the objects into both modes. Subsequently, a cued-recall test was administered, and the Reduction method of Tulving and Watkins (1975) was used to provide a quantitative description of the composition of subjects' memory traces. Later, all children attempted free recall. Older children recalled more items and their recall protocols demonstrated a greater amount of mode switching during recall. Younger children retained as many of the traces necessary for retrieving items on the basis of both modes as did older children. Hence age-related differences in switching between modes during recall appears to have been a causative factor underlying recall differences.
Young children's understanding of the sources of their beliefs was investigated. 3, 4, and 5-year-olds learned about the contents of a drawer in 3 different ways: they saw the contents, were told about them, or inferred their identity from a clue. Children were then asked, immediately and after a brief delay, how they knew about the contents of the drawer. 3-year-olds had difficulty identifying the sources of their knowledge, while 5-year-olds did not. Moreover, even 3-year-olds who could correctly identify the source immediately had difficulty remembering the source after a delay. Explicit training in identifying sources did not improve the 3-year-olds' performance. These results support the hypothesis that children learn about the causal relation between the world and the mind between 3 and 5 years of age.
A sharp improvement was found between 3 years and 5 years in children's understanding of the role of visual perception and linguistic communication in knowledge formation. Although children at any age were able to obtain knowledge and could reliably introspect on the existence of knowledge obtained through visual and linguistic information, most 3- and some 4-year-olds seemed completely ignorant about the causal connection between access to an informational source and resulting knowledge. They could not tell how they themselves had acquired a particular piece of knowledge (i. e., whether they had been shown or told). They were also incapable of assessing another person's knowledge of a fact on the basis of observing that person being deprived of or being given information about that fact.