Examining Age-Related Use of Visual Imagery Subprocesses in Children
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This study examined the age-related ability of children (7 to 11 years) and adults to use visual imagery in tasks requiring the subprocesses of imagery generation, maintenance and inspection. Previous work had shown that young children's performance on imagery maintenance was comparable to other groups, but the level of development was inferior with tasks requiring imagery generation and inspection. We examined these findings using two newly created tasks (Line Direction and Clock Task) and one modified from previous work (Grid Task). Our data indicated that children's ability to use visual imagery generation, inspection, and maintenance was operable, but substantially below adult levels. In most cases, 7-year-olds displayed greater difficulty than their 9- and 11-year-old counterparts and adults with tasks involving response time. Our results suggest that whereas young children are capable of using the imagery subprocesses examined, at least one age-related constraint, especially with maintenance tasks, is short-term visual memory ability. We also recognize that other likely factors, especially with young children in response time situations, are attention and general information processing ability.