About this Research Topic
Verbal rehearsal has been studied very intensely by developmental psychologists beginning with Flavell, Beach, and Chinsky (1966). Although, it has been one of the major topics in cognitive-development research in the last 50 years, rehearsal is still one of the most ill-defined cognitive processes. This is not only the case when assessing rehearsal processes during study, it is also particularly true when trying to ascribe the actual recall consequences of verbal rehearsal processes.
The path of developmental change in verbal rehearsal is generally described by a qualitative change from a repetition of an individual item (once or over and over again) to a repetition of several items (once or over and over again) and a quantitative change in terms of rehearsal set size, rehearsal efficiency, and amount of information included in the rehearsal process.
Whether and how verbal rehearsal is implemented, however, largely depends on the verbal memory task specifications. These tasks may range from those during which rehearsal seems to be impossible for most to those which allow for or even call for the implementation of some kind of rehearsal. This implies that if rehearsal takes place, its implementation may range between an automatized production and a deliberate or strategically intended form.
Even if recently there have been some attempts to disentangle the cognitive processes that lie on this continuum of verbal memory tasks, as well as their developmental changes, the question of the circumstances under which different mechanisms come into play remains open. As stated above, when studying verbal rehearsal processes or, more generally, verbal memory processes particular task differences (e.g., effects of word length, articulatory suppression, presentation rate, presence of a delay, etc.) produce a large variation in terms of output phenomena and patterns of output. Clearly, additional sources of variation in study and recall behavior are children’s age, and concomitant complex interactions of cognitive factors that propel development.
The focus of this Research Topic is therefore to promote greater theoretical specification of the different accounts of verbal rehearsal development, and how these apply to different verbal memory tasks. Another aim is the integration of these accounts into broader theories of verbal memory development. We welcome empirical contributions that use a broad range of verbal memory tasks to study the implementation of verbal rehearsal, and a similarly broad range of measures of measuring rehearsal, in order to discuss similarities and dissimilarities in the respective mechanisms. We also seek theoretical contributions providing detailed discussion of models or mechanisms that account for verbal rehearsal development and its relationship to verbal memory development more generally. Finally, we would like to outline the continuum of rehearsal in different contexts, i.e., as implemented in the laboratory and in more natural settings. This Research Topic therefore aims to set the stage for formulating more precise hypotheses as to the importance of verbal rehearsal under different learning conditions.
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