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The Development of episodic cognition and mental time travel in turkish preschoolers: what, where, and when

Ünal, Gülten
The goal of the present study is to investigate the development of episodic cognition and mental time travel and their relation with Working Memory, language ability, and counter-factual thinking in Turkish preschoolers (age range: 3 to 5 years). Overall, in order to investigate these concepts, we developed two main tasks: (1) a what-where-when (www) memory task that tests episodic memory of the past, (2) a future prediction task that tests episodic future thinking (mental time travel) and five additional tasks as possible predictors: (3) a story telling task which measures the development of the usage of the future-tense, (4) the Day-Night Stroop Task, (5) the Corsi Block Tapping Task, (6) a counter-factual thinking task, and (7) a questionnaire asking incidental episodic memory questions about the events related to the testing session. The results indicated that the main tasks and additional tasks developed significantly by age. The regression results showed that the www task depends mainly on executive functioning and episodic memory for younger children, while these predictors disappear for older children. For the future-prediction task, while the performances of 3-year-olds seem to depend on executive functioning and visuo-spatial abilities, none of the additional tasks seem predictive for the 4-year-olds indicating a process of re-organization. As for the 5-year-olds, linguistic abilities become more predictive indicating that episodic future thinking might later depend more on linguistic sources.