The Role of Working Memory in Implicit Memory: A Developmental Perspective

Yingying Yang, Mo Chen, Wei He, Edward C. Merrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Long-term memory (LTM) can be acquired without conscious awareness resulting in implicit memory. However, lack of awareness does not necessarily mean fully independent of working memory (WM). In the current study, 6-8-year-olds, 11-13-year-olds, and young adults completed two implicit memory tasks while undertaking either a concurrent visual or a concurrent spatial working memory task. All three groups demonstrated significant implicit memory, showing that limited working memory resources do not limit the acquisition of implicit memory even for children. Additionally, the magnitudes of implicit LTM did not vary as a function of either age or modality of the concurrent task. Furthermore, correlational analyses established the independence of WM and implicit LTM in the spatial domain, although the evidence for independence was less conclusive in the visual domain. Lastly, there was no evidence that presenting concurrent WM reduced implicit LTM for children or adults. Together, our study suggested that the acquisition of implicit LTM was not constrained by limited WM capacity across ages and modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100929
JournalCognitive Development
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • children
  • contextual cueing
  • implicit memory
  • spatial
  • visual
  • working memory


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