The ability to imagine future events (episodic future thinking—EFT) emerges in preschoolers and further improves during middle childhood and adolescence. In the present study, we focused on the possible cognitive factors that affect EFT and its development. We assessed the ability to mentally project forward in time of a large cohort of 135 6- to 11-year-old children through a task with minimal narrative demands (the Picture Book Trip task adapted from Atance and Meltzoff in Cogn Dev 20(3):341–361. doi:10.1016/j.cogdev.2005.05.001, 2005) in order to avoid potential linguistic effects on children’s performance. The results showed that this task can be used to assess the development of EFT at least until the age of 8. Furthermore, EFT scores correlated with measures of phonological short-term and verbal working memory. These results support the possibility that cognitive factors such as working memory play a key role in EFT.
Ferretti, F., Chiera, A., Nicchiarelli, S., Adornetti, I., Magni, R., Vicari, S., et al. (2018). The development of episodic future thinking in middle childhood. COGNITIVE PROCESSING, 19, 87-94 [10.1007/s10339-017-0842-5].