Pictures over words: a cross-sectional study reporting short term memory abilities in children

Aysha Rooha, Malavika Anakkathil Anil, Jayashree S. Bhat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: An impressive amount of research has been conducted studying modality-specific Short Term Memory (STM) skills in children differing in the type of tasks used. In the present study, we aimed to profile the STM abilities based on modality, in typically developing children using a story-based assessment. Methods: The study followed a cross-sectional design and comprised of 80 participants between the ages of 6 years to 9 years 11 months. An animated story was shown to the children, following which a word recall task was performed. In this task, children were asked to recall the words mentioned in the story from a pictorial array. Results: One-way analysis of variance revealed a significant difference in the overall recall abilities of children. The recall performance was strongly related to the modality of the presentation of words. A marginal difference was observed for the recall of auditory-visual words in comparison to recall of words in the auditory modality; wherein older children recalled better in comparison to younger children. The findings of the study could be attributed to the "visual superiority effect", "encoding specificity principle of memory" and "multimedia effect." Conclusion: STM abilities were observed to increase with age, with the existence of asynchrony in the auditory-visual and auditory recall scores indicating the firm reliance on the modality of presentation of word. The study implications emphasize on the use of visual stimuli for teaching new vocabularies, skills, and concepts in younger children. These findings also highlight the use of visual stimuli while assessing speech, language, and cognitive skills in younger children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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