Extended trajectory of spatial memory errors in typical and atypical development: The role of binding and precision

Maomiao Peng, Annalysa Lovos, Kenneth Bottrill, Katharine Hughes, Miranda Sampsel, Nancy Raitano Lee, Leonard Abbeduto, Angela John Thurman, Jamie Edgin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatial reconstruction, a method for evaluating how individuals remember the placement of objects, has traditionally been evaluated through the aggregate estimation of placement errors. However, this approach may obscure the nature of task errors. Specifically, recent data has suggested the importance of examining the precision of responses, as well as absolute performance on item-context bindings. In contrast to traditional analysis approaches based on the distance between the target and the reconstructed item, in this study we further explored three types of errors (swap error, global error, and local distance) that may all contribute to the distance, with particular emphasis on swap errors and local distance due to their associations with item-context bindings and memory precision, respectively. We examined these errors in children aged 3–18 years, making comparisons between children with typical development (TD) and children with Down syndrome (DS), a population with known memory challenges. As expected, older children outperformed younger children in terms of overall memory accuracy. Of importance is that we measured uneven maturational trajectories of memory abilities across the various error types. Specifically, both remembered locations (irrespective of object identity) and swap errors (object-location binding errors) align with the overall memory accuracy. Memory precision, as measured by local distance in simpler set size 2 trials, mirrored overall memory accuracy. However, for more complex set size 3 trials, local distance remained stable before age 8 and showed age-related change thereafter. The group with DS showed reduced precision compared to a TD matched group, and measures of precision, and to a lesser extent binding errors, correlated with standard neuropsychological outcomes. Overall, our study contributed to a fine-grained understanding of developing spatial memory ability in a large sample of typical developing children and a memory impaired population. These findings contribute to a growing body of research examining precision as a key factor in memory performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1171-1188
Number of pages18
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • down syndrome
  • hippocampus
  • memory development
  • precision
  • relational memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Extended trajectory of spatial memory errors in typical and atypical development: The role of binding and precision'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this