Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Psychology
Dawn M. McBride
Prospective Memory (PM) refers to remembering an intention to be acted upon in the future. Such a memory may be triggered by an event (i.e., Event-based PM) where a specific cue reminds one of the previously encoded intention. PM can be assessed in a lab-setting by having subjects learn a baseline task, subsequently receiving a PM instruction, completing a distractor task, and then going through a test phase where the PM task (i.e., responding to PM cues) is embedded within the ongoing task. The multiprocess view (McDaniel & Einstein, 2000) posits that PM can be retrieved primarily using two different strategies: one can strategically monitor for the PM cue to keep the intention in mind or spontaneously retrieve the intention by coming across the cue.
The multiprocess view suggests that monitoring or spontaneous retrieval strategies are chosen based on whether one’s current task is focal or non-focal to the nature of the PM task. When processing of the ongoing task stimuli and PM stimuli overlap (i.e., focal), spontaneous retrieval of the encoded intention is thought to occur more often. On the other hand, when processing of the PM stimuli is peripheral (i.e., non-focal) to the ongoing task, one may have to consistently monitor for the PM cue for successful task performance. Manipulation of PM task focality has shown a PM
performance advantage in focal conditions (Einstein & McDaniel, 2005), confirming the focality effect posited by the Multiprocess view.
Past studies (e.g., Schnitzspahn, Stahl, Zeintl, Kaller, & Kliegel, 2013) have suggested that some aspects of executive function (EF) are involved in non-focal PM performance. However, according to the multiprocess view, spontaneous retrieval of the PM cue can occur when the ongoing task is focal to the PM task. Because subjects may not need to appropriate as many cognitive resources toward the PM task, EF might be unrelated to PM performance in focal tasks. The current study tested this idea by examining a sample of college-aged subjects on two event-based PM (category and syllable judgments) and two EF (inhibition and task-switching) tasks. Subjects were assigned to focal or non-focal conditions for the PM tasks. The prediction of a focal condition advantage was found for PM performance measures, particularly in the syllables task. No relationships were found between PM performance and EF measures for the focal condition, as predicted. However, most of the predicted relationships between PM performance and EF measures for the non-focal condition were not confirmed, with the exception of a correlation between inhibition and PM performance measures. Further, EF measures could not account for performance differences across focality conditions. These findings were evaluated in terms of current theories of PM and implications of the current study were addressed.
Shigeta, Tatsuya T., "Examining the Role of Executive Functions in Focal Processing of Event-Based Prospective Memory" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 636.