A Naturalistic Assessment of the Organization of Children’s Memories Predicts Cognitive Functioning and Reading Ability

Natália Bezerra Mota, Janaína Weissheimer, Beatriz Madruga, Nery Adamy, Silvia A. Bunge, Mauro Copelli and Sidarta Ribeiro

To explore the relationship between memory and early school performance, we used graph theory to investigate memory reports from 76 children aged 6–8 years. The reports comprised autobiographical memories of events days to years past, and memories of novel images reported immediately after encoding. We also measured intelligence quotient (IQ) and theory of mind (ToM). Reading and Mathematics were assessed before classes began (December 2013), around the time of report collection (June 2014), and at the end of the academic year (December 2014). IQ and ToM correlated positively with word diversity and word-to-word connectivity, and negatively with word recurrence. Connectivity correlated positively with Reading in June 2014 as well as December 2014, even after adjusting for IQ and ToM. To our knowledge, this is the first study demonstrating a link between the structure of children's memories and their cognitive or academic performance.

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