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Release from proactive interference and its relations to executive functions : a developmental study on Turkish

Ünal, Gülten
The aim of this study was to investigate the development of release from proactive interference (RPI) and its relations with executive working memory functions. 101 primary school children (aged 6-12 years) and 20 young adults (aged 22-30 years) participated in the study. The main task, the Categorical Free Recall Test, comprised 12 items from 3 different categories (animals, fruits, clothes). The purpose of the main task was to examine both the development of the RPI pattern and the categorization ability during childhood. As our results showed, the categorization ability and the RPI pattern were already present in the 1st graders. Although overall memory span increased with age, there was no significant development for the categorization and the RPI effect. For the additional tasks, the Word Span Test (WST, to measure the phonological WM capacity), the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST, to measure both the categorization ability and executive WM functions), and the Listening Span Test (LST, to examine executive and complex WM functions), the results indicated that children also improved with age. Overall memory capacity in the main task was best predicted by the WST; however, memory of serial position was best predicted by the LST. These findings are in accordance with the view that the WST measures the phonological working memory span, whereas the LST measures complex working memory and executive functions. The comparisons between the adult and the child sample revealed that except for the RPI pattern adults were better on all tasks than the children. The lack of a consistent RPI pattern for the adults may be due to the relatively short stimulus list.