Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 107:3 (November 2010), pp. 368–376; doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2010.05.004 Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


Early in development, there is a transition in spatial working memory (SWM). When remembering a location in a homogeneous space (e.g., in a sandbox), young children are biased toward the midline symmetry axis of the space. Over development, a transition occurs that leads to older children being biased away from midline. The dynamic field theory (DFT) explains this transition in biases as being caused by a change in the precision of neural interaction in SWM and improvements in the perception of midline. According to the DFT, young children perceive midline, but there is a quantitative improvement in the perception of midline over development. In the experiment reported here, children and adults needed to determine on which half of a large monitor a target was located. In support of the DFT, even the youngest children performed above chance at most locations, but performance also improved gradually with age.