Do verbal reminders improve preschoolers’ prospective memory performance? It depends on age and individual differences
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KeywordExecutive framework of prospective memory development
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AbstractWe examined the effect of verbal reminders on 4- to 6-year-olds’ prospective memory (PM). Reminder type interacted with age to affect PM performance. Children with better retrospective memory had better PM in the retrospective reminder condition. Children with better executive control had better PM in the executive reminder condition. Prospective memory (PM) involves both a retrospective memory component (i.e., remembering the content of a future intention) and a prospective component (i.e., detecting the appropriate cue and carrying out that intention). The current study was the first to test the effect of a single verbal reminder on 4- to 6-year-olds’ PM performance. Children were randomly assigned to: (1) a reminder about the content of an intention (retrospective memory reminder), (2) a reminder to pay attention (executive reminder), or (3) no reminder to test the predictions of the Executive Framework of PM Development (Mahy et al., 2014b) that posit a key role for executive function in PM development once retrospective memory reaches a sufficient level. Children also completed independent measures of retrospective memory and executive control. We predicted that an executive reminder should help children’s PM by increasing cue detection, whereas a retrospective memory reminder should not affect PM because by 4 children should be able to encode and store simple future intentions. Results showed that: (1) PM performance improved with age, (2) age interacted with the reminder condition, and (3) children with better executive functioning had better PM after receiving an executive reminder. These results suggest that age and individual differences play an important role in the impact reminders have on children’s PM performance.
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Executive and Retrospective Memory Processes in Preschoolers’ Prospective Memory DevelopmentFuke, Taissa; Department of PsychologyProspective memory (PM), the ability to remember to carry out future intentions, is critical for children’s daily functioning. The Executive Framework of PM Development predicts that executive function should drive young children’s PM development once a sufficient level of retrospective memory has developed. In two studies, we investigated the predictors of PM development in 3- to 6-year-old children using behavioural and parent-reported measures. Neither retrospective memory nor executive function predicted children’s behavioural PM in Study 1. Retrospective memory significantly predicted parent-reported PM in Study 2. Across both studies, executive function consistently predicted parent-reported PM regardless of the method of measurement. Parent-report and behavioural measures may tap into different aspects of PM, but both retrospective memory and executive processes are important to PM development in early childhood.
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