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Wilfrid Laurier University

Current Studies in the Child Memory Lab

Why not join us in the lab as a participant in one or more of our studies? Studies vary from one session to five sessions, and all involve fun activities that help us learn more about how children remember things! Please contact us if you are interested in participating in our research, or have any questions about our research.


Where Did I Learn That?: Children's Use of Memory Cues For Source Monitoring

  • An individual's ability to accurately monitor source (attribute known or remembered information to its particular source or origin) has been known to develop gradually throughout childhood.  Although research has suggested that source-monitoring judgments are more accurate when a greater number of differentiating cues exist between sources, the current research suggests that a developmental difference may exist and that young children may be more likely to make accurate source judgments when fewer differences exist between sources. An experimental research design will be used to expose a large sample of participants of different age groups (3-5, 6-8, 19-21) each to two different source-monitoring events/conditions (by means of video simulation).  Each event will contain two actors, and the number of distinguishing cues that exist between the actors will be manipulated (one salient cue, five cues).  Next, participants will be interviewed and asked to make source-monitoring judgments in regards to each of the two events. Data will be analyzed by age group.  Understanding the way that individuals use cues to monitor source can help us further understand developmental differences in source monitoring, and basic research questions concerning the nature of children?s source-monitoring errors are particularly important to understanding the caveats surrounding interviews with young children.

"Mindful Me!" A School-Based Training Program for Healthy Minds

  • This study investigates the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based training program on children's emotional well being, self-control, and general health. Sessions will run in groups of 5-6 children for half an hour over a span of 6-8 weeks. Parents will fill out 4 questionnaires regarding their own children (2 before the sessions begin and 2 at the end of the sessions) which will take approximately half an hour. Researchers will do activities with children that promote a mindful attitude through stories, demonstrations, relaxation, music, and meditation. These activities encourage children to let go of anger, notice when their body tells them it is anxious, and be able to appreciate what is happening in the moment before acting out. Children will be tested before and after to see whether there was any improvements in their behaviour and attention. This research will contribute to our understanding of the critical factors necessary for positive social behavior and self-concept. It will also provide guidelines to teachers and parents who would like to promote children's health.

Gait Response 

  • This research study is aimed at discovering whether children can use memories of gait (physical movement when walking) to identify people. Children aged 7-11 years will be individually trained to remember the individual gait patterns of 2 people (one male, one female) while wearing an eye-tracker. The eye-tracker will help show us where specifically the children are looking to gather information. The children will then see the same videos of each of these 2 people, one at a time and in random order, and asked to identify the person's gender based solely on their gait pattern!

Children’s Memory for Conversations: Who did you Tell?

  • Have you ever started to tell someone a story and realized half way through that you’ve already told that person the story? Researchers in the Child Memory Lab at Laurier are studying how children remember conversations they’ve had with other people. They are interested in knowing more about how children remember what they’ve talked about with different people. Children will do a fun activity with different puppets who ask them questions about themselves and their experiences (for example, asking them about a birthday party they’ve been to or a recent vacation). Then they will complete a memory test about the conversations they had with the puppets. This test is to see whether children can remember who they talked to about different topics. In total, 50 children between the ages of 4 and 8-year-old will participate in the study.  

Repeated Event Studies

Children are quite good at talking about what 'usually happens' during a typical event (e.g., swimming lessons, going to a restaurant or the grocery store), but they have more difficulty isolating individual occurrences of these events and describing only what happened one time. We are currently conducting a study about children's memories for repeated events:

Children’s Ability to Recall One Event among a Series of Repeated Events
  • Have you ever been asked by someone where you heard that information or perhaps where you bought that shirt? The difficulty in answering these questions is related to source confusion, or remembering the origin of that object or conversation, so for example, where that shirt was bought. When these experiences are repeated, remembering the source of something becomes even more difficult. The Child Memory Lab at Wilfrid Laurier University is seeking to understand how children are able to identify one of these events in the context of many repeated events. This study will investigate how 'different' events help aid in remembering the origin of these memories (for example, you bought that shirt on vacation-something 'different' than usual which makes it easier to remember). Children will experience about 15-20 minutes of various activities such as singing songs or colouring for four days of the week. Alternatively, one day of the week will be a ‘different’ time where the types of activities will change slightly from the other four days. Children will then be interviewed and asked about 'a time that was different' or just asked about a 'normal' time. This study will seek to understand if asking about the 'different' time helps children to elicit more details and higher accuracy of these details compared to 'normal' times.

Memory Training for Repeated Events

  • Researchers in the Child Memory Lab at Laurier are studying how children remember the sources of their memories. For example, trying to remember whether you learned something from an internet source or whether it was a friend that told you. Children’s memories for sources are important because children are constantly exposed to different sources of information (e.g., parents, teachers, TV, the internet) and they have to remember the source of the information in order to judge its credibility. Recent research has shown that a practice memory interview can “train” children to remember the sources of their memories more accurately, but we don’t know yet if this training would work when there are many sources - for example, a series of repeated events. In this study, children will experience four similar events where they do activities with a research assistant (e.g., puzzles, reading books). After the fourth event they will have a memory test to see whether they can remember which things happened on which day. Half of the children will do the practice memory training before they do the memory test so that we can see whether this helps children remember the sources of the activities better. In total, 100 children between the ages of 4 and 8 years old will participate in the study.


The Effect of Mental Context Reinstatement on Children's Repeated Event Narratives

  • Children aged 4-8-years are being recruited to participate in four 20-minute sessions of an event in which they do simple pleasant activities like listen to stories, make puzzles, count objects and play a guessing game. 5-7 days following the final activity session, your child will be interviewed by one of our trained researchers; this session will last approximately 30 minutes. At the beginning of the interview session, your child will be invited to talk about a pleasant activity that s/he experiences on a regular basis (e.g., swimming lessons, gym class). If you would like your child to take part in this research, we will ask that you provide us with some activities that we can talk to your child about. After your child has had a chance to practice talking about the activity, the researcher will ask your child to talk about the event sessions. Half of the children participating will be asked to mentally recreate the events during the interview, while the other half of the children will be asked about the events as usual (e.g., what else did you do??). Children will be randomly assigned to the groups. Parents will be compensated $10 for their time, and children will receive a small toy at each session.