Language science affiliate Zoe Klemfuss receives NICHD R01 grant
- July 9, 2021
- Grant provides $2.5 million over 5 years to study children’s comprehension and memory of event sequences and its implications for maltreatment disclosure
Congratulations to Zoe Klemfuss, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Science and Language Science affiliate, for receiving an R01 grant from the NIH National Institute of Child Heath and Human Development (NICHD). The grant is titled “Children's Comprehension and Memory of Event Sequences and Its Implications for Maltreatment Disclosure” and will provide $2.5 million dollars over 5 years.
The research funded on the grant will focus on better understanding how children comprehend and remember sequences of events in the context of maltreatment disclosure. Child maltreatment is widely recognized as a serious threat to children’s well-being and health. In maltreatment cases, the fidelity and credibility of the child witness/victim’s report is often critical to securing an outcome in the best interest of the child. Eliciting information from children about the time-course and sequence of alleged maltreatment is central in these cases. The field of child interviewing is actively debating how best to question children about sequence in these cases with little existing empirical research on which to draw. There is a pressing need to identify strategies for obtaining information from even young, cognitively vulnerable children about the time course and sequence of alleged events. The research funded by this grant will determine (1) how children are questioned about event sequence, and how they respond, across age, in maltreatment investigations (2) how differences in children’s age, comprehension, working memory (WM), attention, and episodic memory may impact their abilities to accurately recall event sequence, and (3) how questions and child responses about sequence impact the likelihood that jury-eligible adults’ will understand and believe children’s allegations of abuse.
The proposed research will take a multi-dimensional approach to examining the cognitive, developmental, and contextual appropriateness of varying sequencing questions asked of children in maltreatment investigations and determining the extent to which these questions may impact just decisions in maltreatment cases. This topic has been surprisingly understudied given the substantial implications for understanding the foundations of children’s sequential knowledge and memory, and for improving health-relevant legal outcomes in cases of child maltreatment.