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The involvement of executive functions in prospective memory performance of adults


Martin, Mike; Kliegel, M; McDaniel, M A (2003). The involvement of executive functions in prospective memory performance of adults. International Journal of Psychology, 38(4):195-206.

Abstract

The present study examines the relationship between prospective memory performance and
executive functioning. The four phases of the prospective memory process – intention
formation, intention retention, reinstantiation of the intention, and intention execution – are
assumed to require different amounts of executive processing, the most of which being
demanded in the phases of intention formation and intention execution. At present, though, it
is still unclear whether, and to which extent, prefrontal executive systems are involved in
different kinds of prospective memory tasks, as some findings suggest that prospective
memory might rather rely on non-strategic processes unlikely to depend on prefrontal
executive systems. Therefore, this study focuses on the following questions: (a) to which
degree does executive functioning predict prospective memory performance in different
standard prospective memory tasks and, furthermore, are certain executive measures better
predictors than others; (b) are age-related effects in different prospective memory measures
due to individual differences in executive functioning and (c) do age-related differences in
prospective memory exist that are not explained by individual differences in executive
functioning. In a sample of 80 adults (20-80 years), we applied four instruments to measure
prospective memory: a traditional single-task paradigm, two more complex tasks – one timebased
and one event-based, and a highly complex multi-task paradigm. We further assessed a
broadly defined construct of executive functioning, using several standard neuropsychological
tests. Results showed that executive functioning did not predict performance in the simple
single-tasks paradigm. However, executive functioning, but not age, predicted performance in
the two more complex standard tests of prospective remembering, and both executive
functioning and age predicted performance in the most complex paradigm. In sum, the
obtained data underline the assumption that frontal/executive functions are related to
prospective memory performance across a range of prospective paradigms. It also seems
3
clear that age differences in prospective memory performance partially depend on age-related
individual differences in frontal/executive functions.

The present study examines the relationship between prospective memory performance and
executive functioning. The four phases of the prospective memory process – intention
formation, intention retention, reinstantiation of the intention, and intention execution – are
assumed to require different amounts of executive processing, the most of which being
demanded in the phases of intention formation and intention execution. At present, though, it
is still unclear whether, and to which extent, prefrontal executive systems are involved in
different kinds of prospective memory tasks, as some findings suggest that prospective
memory might rather rely on non-strategic processes unlikely to depend on prefrontal
executive systems. Therefore, this study focuses on the following questions: (a) to which
degree does executive functioning predict prospective memory performance in different
standard prospective memory tasks and, furthermore, are certain executive measures better
predictors than others; (b) are age-related effects in different prospective memory measures
due to individual differences in executive functioning and (c) do age-related differences in
prospective memory exist that are not explained by individual differences in executive
functioning. In a sample of 80 adults (20-80 years), we applied four instruments to measure
prospective memory: a traditional single-task paradigm, two more complex tasks – one timebased
and one event-based, and a highly complex multi-task paradigm. We further assessed a
broadly defined construct of executive functioning, using several standard neuropsychological
tests. Results showed that executive functioning did not predict performance in the simple
single-tasks paradigm. However, executive functioning, but not age, predicted performance in
the two more complex standard tests of prospective remembering, and both executive
functioning and age predicted performance in the most complex paradigm. In sum, the
obtained data underline the assumption that frontal/executive functions are related to
prospective memory performance across a range of prospective paradigms. It also seems
3
clear that age differences in prospective memory performance partially depend on age-related
individual differences in frontal/executive functions.

Citations

84 citations in Web of Science®
94 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:August 2003
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:28
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:22
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0020-7594
Additional Information:This is an electronic version of an article published in International Journal of Psychology 2003, 38(4):195-206. International Journal of Psychology is available online at http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&AN=11229347&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live
Publisher DOI:10.1080/00207590344000123
Related URLs:http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=buh&AN=11229347&loginpage=Login.asp&site=ehost-live
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2212

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