Back To The Future - How Do Children Learn To Use The Past To Think About The Future? - Dr Jenny Richmond

What is this research about?

Why do humans have such extraordinary memory capabilities?

Some researchers argue that memory is adaptive value because it allows us to draw on our past experiences to think about the future (Schacter & Addis, 2007).

We know that the ability to imagine how future events might play out develops along a similar time course to episodic memory, emerging during the preschool period. Recent work in our lab has focussed on the mechanisms that underlie this development. We have shown that the ability to talk about future events is related to relational memory abilities (Richmond & Pan, 2013) and that the ability to make behavioural choices for the future is related to executive function (Richmond, Michael, & Lazarou, 2017).

Our current work is addressing whether pre-schoolers are able to imagine the future beyond the immediate (i.e. can they understand that their preferences might change when they are adults?) and whether narrative and behavioural future thinking tasks tap the same kind of future thinking abilities.  

Other researchers working on this project?

Publications relating to this research:

Richmond, J., & *Pan, R. (2013). Thinking about the future early in life: The role of relational memory development. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 510-521

Richmond, J., Michael, C., & Lazarou, K. (2017). Remembering, imagining, and/or inhibiting: Component processes in pre-schoolers future thinking development. Invited symposium paper at Society for Research in Child Development, Austin, TX

Grants awarded:

2014 University of New South Wales Faculty Research Grant. $15000 “The role of executive control processes in future thinking development”.


Early Learning Project