Who's Who? Memory Updating and Character Reference in Children's Narratives PurposeThe capacity to update and monitor the contents of working memory is an executive function presumed to play a critical role in language processing. The current study used an individual differences approach to consider the relationship between memory updating and accurate reference to story characters in the narratives of typically ... Article
Article  |   October 01, 2013
Who's Who? Memory Updating and Character Reference in Children's Narratives
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Cristy Whitely
    University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Paola Colozzo
    University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Correspondence to Paola Colozzo: paola.colozzo@audiospeech.ubc.ca
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Ron Gillam
    Associate Editor: Ron Gillam×
Article Information
Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   October 01, 2013
Who's Who? Memory Updating and Character Reference in Children's Narratives
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2013, Vol. 56, 1625-1636. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0176)
History: Received June 4, 2012 , Revised November 8, 2012 , Accepted January 11, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2013, Vol. 56, 1625-1636. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0176)
History: Received June 4, 2012; Revised November 8, 2012; Accepted January 11, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

PurposeThe capacity to update and monitor the contents of working memory is an executive function presumed to play a critical role in language processing. The current study used an individual differences approach to consider the relationship between memory updating and accurate reference to story characters in the narratives of typically developing children.

MethodEnglish-speaking children from kindergarten to grade 2 (N = 63; Mage = 7.0 years) completed updating tasks, short-term memory tasks, and narrative productions. The authors used multiple regression to test whether updating accounted for independent variability in referential adequacy.

ResultsThe capacity to update working memory was related to adequate character reference beyond the effects of age and of short-term memory capacity, with the strongest relationship emerging for maintaining reference over multiple utterances.

ConclusionsThis individual differences study is the first to show a link between updating and performance in a discourse production task for young school-age children. The findings contribute to the growing body of research investigating the role of working memory in shaping language production. This study invites extension to children of different ages and language abilities as well as to other language production tasks.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported, in part, by a scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada to the first author. We thank the children, families, teachers, and schools, whose participation and assistance made this project possible; Judith R. Johnston for her mentorship and support; Sarah Blois, Heidi Logan, and Heather Morris for their participation in data collection and transcription; and Monique Charest and Jeff Small for their comments and suggestions. Portions of this work were presented at the 2010 Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders in Madison, WI.
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