Resultative event representations in Dutch children and adults: Does describing events help memory?

Miguel Santin*, Ciara Hobbelink, Monique Flecken, Angeliek van Hout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademic

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The development of event representations happens in interaction with language acquisition. This acquisition process involves learning to form associations between verbs and components of event representations. While the effect of describing events on the attention allocation of children has been frequently studied, we do not know how language use might affect their memory. In the present study, we investigated to what extent language use facilitates children’s memory of events. In particular, we were interested in how accurately children remember the ending of events. To this endeavor, we compared the performance of of Dutch children (between 3 and 6 years old) and adults in a recognition task after they had attentively encoded video clips of events either verbally (providing event descriptions) or non-verbally (performing a visual probe-recognition task). Results showed that describing events especially enhanced adults’ memory for events in which change in the properties of an object reached culmination, but not children’s. There are two possible explanations: 1) children’s event memory at this age is less detailed as compared to adults’, 2) children’s use of language may not be specific enough to seize the subtle event-ending contrasts we investigated. While the first explanation emphasizes that children’s episodic memory is still in development, the second one highlights that children are still, to some extent, learning to attend to linguistically relevant event features at adult-like levels of detail.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 44th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development
EditorsMegan M. Brown, Alexandra Kohut
Place of PublicationSomerville, MA
PublisherCascadilla Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-57473-057-9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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