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Goal setting in working memory: its critical role in preschoolers

English title Goal setting in working memory: its critical role in preschoolers
Applicant Camos Valérie
Number 156521
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Psychologie Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.09.2015 - 31.08.2019
Approved amount 184'176.00
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Keywords (7)

Working Memory; Cognitive Control; Preschoolers; Cognitive Development; Goal; Executive Function; Maintenance

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La mémoire de travail est la structure cognitive qui permet de maintenir l’information pendant un court laps de temps afin de permettre son traitement. Par conséquent, elle est impliquée dans toutes les activités cognitives que nous effectuons. Elle est également le principal déterminant de l’apprentissage. On sait que la capacité de cette mémoire augmente de façon importante au cours de l’enfance. Cependant, on ne connaît pas encore exactement les raisons d’une telle augmentation.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche

Le but de ce travail est d’examiner une hypothèse innovante portant sur l’accroissement de la capacité de la mémoire de travail, en examinant une période de vie qui a été quasiment ignorée par la recherche dans ce domaine, i.e., les enfants d’âge préscolaire (entre 4 et 7 ans). Encore récemment, on concevait que ces enfants n’avaient pas de mécanismes leur permettant de maintenir l’information en mémoire de travail. L’hypothèse sous-tendant ce projet est que ces enfants ont en fait une difficulté particulière qui empêche la mise en œuvre des mécanismes de maintien, alors que ces mécanismes seraient à la disposition de ces enfants. Cette difficulté est que ces enfants n’arrivent pas à gérer le but de l’activité en cours, ce qui a pour conséquence que les mécanismes adéquats ne sont pas activés. Notre but est donc de tester cette hypothèse et de proposer différentes aides à la gestion du but afin d’examiner comme un soutien externe peut améliorer la capacité de la mémoire de travail chez les enfants d’âge préscolaire.

 

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

Le projet relève de la recherche fondamentale, afin de mieux comprendre le développement de la mémoire de travail. Il peut également ouvrir à des applications puisque nous évaluerons quels types d’aide seraient le plus bénéfique pour améliorer la mise en œuvre de mécanismes de mémorisation à court-terme.

 

Keywords

Working Memory, Cognitive Control, Preschoolers, Cognitive Development, Goal, Executive Function, Maintenance.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.11.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
The role of goal cueing in kindergarteners’ working memory
Fitamen Christophe, Blaye Agnès, Camos Valérie (2019), The role of goal cueing in kindergarteners’ working memory, in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 187, 104666-104666.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
1st congress of Swiss Society for Early Childhood Research Talk given at a conference Where did the teddy bear go? Preschoolers’ visual working memory performance is enhanced by location cues presentation 01.10.2019 Lausanne, Switzerland Fitamen Christophe; Camos Valérie; Blaye Agnès;
21th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology Poster Scaffolding maintenance strategies in preschoolers' visual working memory 26.09.2019 Tenerife, Spain Camos Valérie; Blaye Agnès; Fitamen Christophe;
9th European Working Memory Symposium Poster Effect of goal-oriented motor activity in preschoolers’ working memory depend on type of recall. 29.09.2018 Pavia, Italy Blaye Agnès; Camos Valérie; Fitamen Christophe;
Conference of the Archives Jean Piaget Poster Playing first helps 5-year-olds to perform well in a subsequent working memory task. 17.06.2018 Genève, Switzerland Blaye Agnès; Camos Valérie; Fitamen Christophe;
Conference of the Jean Piaget Society Talk given at a conference What role does goal maintenance play in verbal working memory development? 29.05.2018 Amsterdam, Netherlands Blaye Agnès; Camos Valérie; Fitamen Christophe;
Annual Conference of Psychonomic Society Poster Do goal cue or goal oriented activity improve preschoolers' working memory? 09.11.2017 Vancouver, Canada Fitamen Christophe; Camos Valérie; Blaye Agnès;
Fribourg Day of Cognition 2017 Talk given at a conference Goal cues impact in a different way verbal working memory and executive control in kindergarteners 04.10.2017 Fribourg, Switzerland Fitamen Christophe; Camos Valérie; Blaye Agnès;
20th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology Poster How goal cues impact verbal working memory in kindergarteners? 03.09.2017 Berlin, Germany Fitamen Christophe; Blaye Agnès; Camos Valérie;
Workshop: Attention in working memory Talk given at a conference Does motor activity influence goal maintenance in preschoolers' verbal working memory? 28.06.2017 Ovronnaz, Switzerland Camos Valérie; Fitamen Christophe; Blaye Agnès;
1st Swiss Working Memory Meeting Talk given at a conference A visual goal cue and an oriented motor activity improve 5-year-olds’ working memory: What’s next? 28.10.2016 Fribourg, Switzerland Camos Valérie; Fitamen Christophe; Blaye Agnès;
Fribourg day of Cognition 2016 Talk given at a conference Preschoolers’ working memory: Could cueing reduce goal neglect and improve performance? 05.10.2016 Fribourg, Switzerland Blaye Agnès; Fitamen Christophe; Camos Valérie;
8th European Working Memory Symposium Poster Goal maintenance and working memory in preschoolers. Can goal cueing improve their performance and under what conditions? 31.08.2016 Liège, Belgium Fitamen Christophe; Blaye Agnès; Camos Valérie;
6th International Conference On Memory Poster Goal maintenance and working memory in preschoolers. Can goal cueing improve their performance and under what conditions? 17.07.2016 Budapest, Hungary Camos Valérie; Fitamen Christophe; Blaye Agnès;
2nd Jean Piaget conferences: Infant development from Piaget to today Poster Goal maintenance and working memory in preschoolers. Can goal cueing improve their performance and under what conditions? 20.06.2016 Genève, Switzerland Fitamen Christophe; Blaye Agnès; Camos Valérie;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Formation doctorale CUS Talk 25.10.2017 Fribourg, Switzerland Camos Valérie;
Formation doctorale CUS Talk 25.10.2017 Fribourg, Switzerland Fitamen Christophe;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Other activities Cafe scientifique Western Switzerland 2017

Abstract

Working memory (WM) is one of the most important concepts of cognitive and developmental psychology. WM can be understood as a capacity-limited system involved in all the mental activities that require processing information while concurrent active maintenance of information in short-term memory is needed. WM is thus a central system of the Human cognitive architecture. Moreover, the development of WM is conceived to play a leading role in cognitive development. Despite its important role in cognitive development, a model of WM development is still missing (Cowan & Alloway, 2009), and a variety of factors is evoked to account for the developmental changes observed throughout childhood (Barrouillet & Gaillard, 2011, for review). Among these changes, children aged between 4 and 6 are often described as having a different WM functioning than older children and adults (e.g., Gathercole, Pickering, Ambridge, & Wearing, 2004). A qualitative change would occur at around 7, because maintenance strategies (rehearsal, refreshing) emerge. Some recent findings questioned this conception in terms of qualitative change, suggesting that rehearsal might be used earlier and WM development would rely more on a quantitative change in the use of the maintenance strategies (Jarrold & Tam, 2011). However, some recent work by Camos suggests that recall performance in preschoolers can be improved by the context of a naturalistic WM task. We suggest that this context can provide some external cues, which help preschoolers to keep the task goal active. This leads to hypothesize that developmental changes in WM between preschoolers and school-aged children could reflect a form of goal neglect rather than a lack of maintenance strategies. This collaborative project between Blaye and Camos emerged from a striking convergence between these questions and the theoretical point recently made Blaye in her own field of inquiry on the development of executive control in preschoolers. Goal representation and goal maintenance appear to be the corner stone of efficient executive control. Blaye’s work revealed both their critical role and ways to enhance them through the use of external cues and/or induced verbal self-cueing in tasks measuring cognitive control. Following these lines, we will test the role of goal setting in WM by manipulating different forms of goal-cueing that we expect to differentially support children’s performance. The impact of this manipulation will be examined across preschool years to test that younger preschoolers will need stronger external support to encode and maintain the task goal of recalling the memoranda. This collaboration is proposed under the convention between SNF and ANR, and will extend the action of the GDRi (Groupe De Recherche international established by the CNRS) “Neurosciences cognitives et Ecole”. It will also benefit from the complementary expertise of Blaye and Camos on the development of cognitive control and WM, respectively. This project should have important theoretical implications for our understanding of WM development, and more generally cognitive development. This project focuses on preschooler ages. Although this age range was extensively studied during this last 20 years for the development of executive functions, it was on the contrary poorly examined concerning WM development. As a consequence, this project both benefits from the very solid grounds on the development of executive functions, while examining a totally new line of research for WM development. Finally, this project should also have practical implications for educational practice in early childhood.
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