Future thinking improves prospective memory performance and plan enactment in older adults

Altgassen, Mareike, Rendell, Peter G., Bernhard, Anka, Henry, Julie D., Bailey, Phoebe E., Phillips, Louise H. and Kliegel, Matthias (2015) Future thinking improves prospective memory performance and plan enactment in older adults. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68 1: 192-204. doi:10.1080/17470218.2014.956127

Author Altgassen, Mareike
Rendell, Peter G.
Bernhard, Anka
Henry, Julie D.
Bailey, Phoebe E.
Phillips, Louise H.
Kliegel, Matthias
Title Future thinking improves prospective memory performance and plan enactment in older adults
Journal name Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1747-0226
Publication date 2015-01-02
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/17470218.2014.956127
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 68
Issue 1
Start page 192
End page 204
Total pages 13
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Abstract Efficient intention formation might improve prospective memory by reducing the need for resource-demanding strategic processes during the delayed performance interval. The present study set out to test this assumption and provides the first empirical assessment of whether imagining a future action improves prospective memory performance equivalently at different stages of the adult lifespan. Thus, younger (n = 40) and older (n = 40) adults were asked to complete the Dresden Breakfast Task, which required them to prepare breakfast in accordance with a set of rules and time restrictions. All participants began by generating a plan for later enactment; however, after making this plan, half of the participants were required to imagine themselves completing the task in the future (future thinking condition), while the other half received standard instructions (control condition). As expected, overall younger adults outperformed older adults. Moreover, both older and younger adults benefited equally from future thinking instructions, as reflected in a higher proportion of prospective memory responses and more accurate plan execution. Thus, for both younger and older adults, imagining the specific visual–spatial context in which an intention will later be executed may serve as an easy-to-implement strategy that enhances prospective memory function in everyday life.
Keyword Ageing
Prospective memory
Future thinking
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 29 Sep 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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