Implicit memory of locations and identities: A developmental study

Yingying Yang, Edward C. Merrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objects in the environment have both location and identity properties. However, it is unclear how these independent properties are processed and combined in the implicit domain. The current study investigated the development of the implicit memory of object locations and object identities, both independently and combined, and the relation between implicit memory and working memory (WM) for these properties. Three age groups participated: 6- and 7-year-old children, 9- and 10-year-old children, and adults. Children and adults completed a repeated search paradigm. In the learning phase, targets’ locations were consistently predicted by both the identities and locations of the distracters. In the test phase, either both remained predictive or just the identities or just the locations of the distracters predicted the location of the target. All groups showed significant implicit learning when both the identities and locations of the distracters remained predictive. When only the locations but not the identities of the distracters were predictive, adults and 9- and 10-year-olds showed significant learning, whereas 6- and 7-year-olds did not. When only the identities but not the locations of the distracters were predictive, none of the groups showed significant learning effects. In evaluating the contributions of either visual or spatial WM to implicit learning and memory, we found that children with smaller visual WM exhibited larger implicit memory effects for object identities than did children with larger visual WM. Taken together, the results indicate that children's ability to differentiate identity and location undergoes development even in the implicit domain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-179
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Children
  • Identity
  • Implicit learning
  • Location
  • Visual search
  • Working memory


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