Long-term memory (LTM) associations appear as important to cognition as single memory contents. Previous studies on updating development have focused on cognitive processes and components, whereas our investigation examines how contents, associated with different LTM strength (strong or weak), might be differentially updated at different ages. To this end, we manipulated association strength of information given at encoding, in order to focus on updating pre-existing LTM associations; specifically, associations for letters. In particular, we controlled for letters usage frequency at the sub-lexical level. We used a task where we dissociated inhibition online (i.e., RTs for updating and controlling inhibition from the same set) and offline (i.e., RTs for controlling inhibition from previously updated sets). Mixed-effect analyses were conducted and showed a substantial behavioural cost when strong associations had to be dismantled online (i.e., longer RTs), compared to weak ones; here, in primary school age children. Interestingly, this effect was independent of age; in fact, children from 7-8 to 9-10 years were comparably sensitive to the strength of LTM associations in updating. However, older children were more effective in offline inhibitory control.
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