Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


The Brown-Peterson task (Brown. 1958: Peterson& Peterson. 1959) is a widely used procedure to test short term memory decay. The Brown-Peterson task presents participants with items to be recalled with short periods of distraction between the stimuli presentation and recall. The memory decay curves found by this procedure are quite well replicated to the present day. Numerous studies have used the Brown-Peterson task to test the short term memory of adults, but little work has been done with children. This paper reviews some of the theoretical back ground on short term memory and forgetting, the use of the Brown-Peterson task on adults in clinical settings, and an extension of short term memory theory to children. The Brown-Peterson task can be used as a method to learn more about children's short-term memory. It was predicted that younger children should show a steeper (decreasing faster) decay curve than adults. Mixed-factorial analysis of variance tests showed a main effect of time, group, and interaction of time and group, and that younger children did indeed have a steeper decay curve than adults. However, when children were told to subvocally rehearse the items to be recalled, their results were virtually the same as for adults. This suggests that children have the same memory capabilities as children but they just do not realize the complexity of those capabilities.


Stephen Kitzis

Date of Award

Summer 2006

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


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