No Evidence for Memory Decontextualization across One Night of Sleep
Changing environmental context during encoding can influence episodic memory. This study examined the memorial consequences of environmental context change in children. Kindergartners, first and fourth graders, and young adults studied two lists of items, either in the same room (no context change) or in two different rooms (context change), and subsequently were tested on the two lists in the room in which the second list was encoded. As expected, in adults, the context change impaired recall of the first list and improved recall of the second. Whereas fourth graders showed the same pattern of results as adults, in both kindergartners and first graders no memorial effects of the context change arose. The results indicate that the two effects of environmental context change develop contemporaneously over middle childhood and reach maturity at the end of the elementary school days. The findings are discussed in light of both retrieval-based and encoding-based accounts of context-dependent memory.