To examine the development of verbal recognition memory in primary-school children, 36 healthy younger children (8-9 years old) and 36 healthy older children (11-12 years old) participated in an ERP study with an extended continuous recognition task. Each word of a series of 30 words was shown randomly for six times interspersed with distracter words. The children were required to make old versus new decisions. The data analyses focused on old/new effects (repetition 1 vs. new word) and multiple repetition effects (repetitions 1 through 5) for the N1, P2, N400, and the late positive complex (LPC, 500-800 ms after stimulus onset). Younger children exhibited a strong P2 multiple repetition effect across left lateral regions, with P2 amplitudes increasing linearly with the number of word repetitions. Compared to younger children, older children exhibited a much stronger N400 old/new effect across parietal regions. Old/new and repetition effects for N1 and LPC were similar in both age groups. Correlational analysis showed that in older children, larger N400 old/new effects on the continuous recognition task were moderately associated with better verbal learning on an auditory verbal learning task. In both age groups, the gain in recognition accuracy over multiple repetitions correlated with the LPC repetition effect. The age differences in P2 repetition effects and N400 old/new effects suggest that in younger children whole-word orthographic representations are dependent on the strength of the memory trace and that lexical-semantic representations develop with age. The LPC results suggest that recollection plays a substantial role in recognition memory of both younger and older children.

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Keywords Child development, Event-related potentials, Extended continuous recognition, Late positive complex (LPC), Memory, Multiple repetitions, N1, N400, Old/new effect, P2
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Journal NeuroImage
van Strien, J.W, Glimmerveen, J.C, Martens, V.E, & de Bruin, E.A. (2009). Age-related differences in brain activity during extended continuous word recognition in children. NeuroImage, 47(2), 688–699. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.020