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Development of Binding and Control Mechanisms Supporting Episodic Memory

Two classes of psychological processes have been demonstrated to support episodic memory: binding and control processes. Binding processes allow us to create, store, and later reinstate representations (“bound” representations) by integrating information about an event with the constellation of contextual features surrounding it (e.g., spatial information, temporal information, information about other co-occurring events). Controlled processes allow us to initiate operations, such as strategies and assessments of current mental states, which guide the formation and monitor the retrieval of bound representations. MaD lab researchers examine the development of both classes of processes.

In recent years, we have been particularly interested in the development of binding processes because the prevailing view in the field was that binding processes develop early in childhood and that episodic memory development in middle childhood and beyond was driven mostly by changes in controlled processes. However, our research suggests that binding processes also continue to develop during this period. For example, we have shown distinct and developmental trajectories of item-space, item-time, and item-item relations with improvements extending into adulthood (Lee et al., under review).

Our research continues to examine the development of control processes. We have been particularly interested in metacognitive processes that allow to us monitor the content and functioning of our cognitive processes and regulate our decisions on the basis of this monitoring activity. For example, we have shown that with age, there is an increased calibration between memory accuracy and children’s judgments of memory accuracy, and this correspondence has implications for decisions that children makes based on their memories (e.g., should I study more?, Should I ask for help?) (Hembacher and Ghetti, 2014).

To examine the development of binding and control mechanisms, the capacity to bind events with their context with examine overt memory measures (memory decisions), covert memory measures (e.g., eye movements) and indices of neural activity.