Cognitive Load and Analogy-making in Children: Explaining an Unexpected Interaction

Abstract

The aim of the present study is to investigate the performance of children of different ages on an analogy-making task involving semantic analogies in which there are competing semantic matches. We suggest that this can be best studied in terms of developmental changes in executive functioning. We hypothesize that the selection of the common relational structure requires the inhibition of other salient features, such as, semantically related semantic matches. Our results show that children's performance in classic A:B::C:D analogy-making tasks seems to depend crucially on the nature of the distractors and the association strength between the A and B terms, on the one hand, and the C and D terms on the other. These results agree with an analogy-making account (Richland et al., 2006) based on varying limitations in executive functioning at different ages.


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