We examined the ERP correlates of familiarity and recollection and their development in 8- to 10-year-old children and a control group of young adults. Capitalizing on the different temporal dynamics of familiarity and recollection, we tested recognition memory in both groups with a speeded and nonspeeded response condition. Consistent with the view that familiarity is available earlier than recollection and by this more relevant for speeded recognition judgments, adults and children showed an early frontal old/new effect, the putative ERP correlate of familiarity in the speeded response condition. No parietal old/new effect, the putative ERP correlate of recollection was obtained in the speeded condition in neither group. Conversely, in the nonspeeded condition, both groups showed the parietal old/new effect, and a frontal effect was additionally observed for adults. In light of the generally lower memory accuracy of the children, these data suggested that children use a weaker and less matured version of the same explicit memory network used by adults in which familiarity and recollection differentially contribute to speeded and nonspeeded recognition memory judgments.

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