Word length effects on pictorial memory encoding in 5- to 7-year-old children: An eye-tracking study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


How speech coding is used for visual material is critical to understanding the link between language and memory development. Using eye-tracking, the present study examined whether the number of syllables of pictured objects’ names, monosyllabic versus multisyllabic, predicts looking time at the stimuli-objects in the context of a memory task, thereby indicating verbal recoding. The children’s (N = 39, ages 5–7 years) language ability was also considered. Younger children (5;1–6;3 years) did not appear to sub-vocally recode the verbal labels of visual stimuli during encoding, whereas older children (6;4–7;3 years) who were already attending elementary school looked longer at objects with multisyllabic labels. Notably, it was primarily the less verbally competent among those children who contributed to the effect. Thus, our results demonstrate, for the first time, that young children’s sub-vocal verbal processing when trying to memorize visual stimuli may be contingent upon verbal competence.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Applied Psychology
Original languageEnglish
Article number100917
JournalCognitive Development
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Elia Psouni, Roger Johansson & Torunn Ness


Project: Research

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