Cognitive control of sequential knowledge in 2-year-olds evidence from an incidental sequence-learning and -generation task

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of London
  • Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development
  • University College London
  • Cognitive Science Research Unit
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Sensorimotor Development Research Unit


Under incidental instructions, thirty-eight 2-year-olds were trained on a six-element deterministic sequence of spatial locations. Following training, subjects were informed of the presence of a sequence and asked to either reproduce or suppress the learned material. Children's production of the trained sequence was modulated by these instructions. When asked to suppress the trained sequence, the children were able to increase generation of paths that were not from the training sequence. Their performance was thus dependent on active suppression of knowledge, rather than on a random generation strategy. This degree of control in 2-year-olds stands in stark contrast to 3-year-olds' failure to control explicitly instructed rule-based knowledge (as measured by the dimensionalchange card-sort task). We suggest that the incidental nature of a learning episode enables the acquisition of a more procedural form of knowledge with which this age group has more experience prior to the onset of fluent language.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas