• The development of prospective memory in children: An executive framework

      Mahy, Caitlin; Moses, Louis; Kliegel, Matthias (Elsevier, 2014)
      Existing literature on children's prospective memory has been reviewed. An executive framework for studies on prospective memory development has been suggested. This study proposes a developmental model of prospective memory. Prospective memory (PM), the ability to remember to carry out one's intentions in the future, is critical for children's daily functioning and their ability to become independent from caregivers. This review assesses the current state of research on children's prospective memory. Using an executive functioning framework the literature can be organized into studies examining four factors that influence PM. We discuss studies that have manipulated the nature of the intention, the content or length of the retention interval, the nature of the ongoing task, and the nature of the PM cue. Further, we propose a model that attempts to account for the development of PM across childhood based on advances in executive control. Finally, we suggest promising future directions for research.
    • The impact of age, ongoing task difficulty, and cue salience on preschoolers’ prospective memory performance: The role of executive function

      Mahy, Caitlin; Moses, Louis; Kliegel, Matthias (Elsevier, 2014)
      5-year-old children had better prospective memory than 4-year-olds.•Children had better prospective memory performance for salient compared to non-salient cues.•Prospective memory performance was not affected by ongoing task difficulty.•Prospective memory suffered most when cues were non-salient and the ongoing task was difficult.•Inhibition fully mediated the relation between age and prospective memory performance. The current study examined the impact of age, ongoing task (OT) difficulty, and cue salience on 4- and 5-year-old children’s prospective memory (PM) and also explored the relation between individual differences in executive function (working memory, inhibition, and shifting) and PM. OT difficulty and cue salience are predicted to affect the detection of PM cues based on the multiprocess framework, yet neither has been thoroughly investigated in young children. OT difficulty was manipulated by requiring children to sort cards according to the size of pictured items (easy) or by opposite size (difficult), and cue salience was manipulated by placing a red border around half of the target cues (salient) and no border around the other cues (non-salient). The 5-year-olds outperformed the 4-year-olds on the PM task, and salient PM cues resulted in better PM cues compared with non-salient cues. There was no main effect of OT difficulty, and the interaction between cue salience and OT difficulty was not significant. However, a planned comparison revealed that the combination of non-salient cues and a difficult OT resulted in significantly worse PM performance than that in all of the other conditions. Inhibition accounted for significant variance in PM performance for non-salient cues and for marginally significant variance for salient cues. Furthermore, individual differences in inhibition fully mediated the effect of age on PM performance. Results are discussed in the context of the multiprocess framework and with reference to preschoolers’ difficulty with the executive demands of dividing attention between the OT and PM task.
    • The role of subvocal rehearsal in preschool children’s prospective memory

      Mahy, Caitlin; Mohun, Hannah; Muller, Ulrich; Moses, Louis (Elsevier, 2016)
      4-year-olds had worse PM than 5-year-olds.•Children in the verbal interference condition had worse PM compared to children in the standard condition.•PM performance was correlated with verbal working memory and receptive vocabulary in the verbal interference condition only.•Children with better verbal ability were better able to cope with verbal interference to the benefit of their PM performance. The current study examined the impact of a verbal interference manipulation on 4- and 5- year olds’ prospective memory (PM). Children were randomly assigned to either complete a quiet delay activity (standard condition) or answer questions aloud during the delay activity (verbal interference condition). Children then completed a PM task followed by several individual differences measures (verbal working memory, inhibitory control, and receptive vocabulary). Four-year-olds showed worse PM than 5-year-olds, children in the verbal interference condition showed worse PM compared to the standard condition, and there was a marginal interaction between age and condition driven by poor performance of 4-year-olds in the verbal interference condition. PM performance was positively correlated with verbal working memory and receptive vocabulary (but not inhibitory control) in the verbal interference condition only suggesting that children with better verbal abilities were more able to cope with verbal interference to the benefit of their PM.
    • The roles of perspective and language in children’s ability to delay gratification

      Mahy, Caitlin; Moses, Louis; O'Brien, Bronwyn; Castro, Alex W.; Kopp, Leia; Atance, Christina (Elsevier, 2020)
      We manipulated psychological distance in a delay of gratification paradigm. Younger children showed an other-over-self advantage but older children did not. Using “want” vs. “should” did not impact children’s delay of gratification. Increasing psychological distance is an established method for improving children’s performance in a number of self-regulation tasks. For example, using a delay of gratification (DoG) task, Prencipe and Zelazo (Psychological Science, 2005, Vol. 16, pp. 501–505) showed that 3-year-olds delay more for “other” than they do for “self,” whereas 4-year-olds make similar choices for self and other. However, to our knowledge, no work has manipulated language to increase psychological distance in children. In two experiments, we sought to manipulate psychological distance by replicating Prencipe and Zelazo’s age-related findings and extending them to older children (Experiment 1) and also sought to manipulate psychological distance using the auxiliary verbs “want” and “should” to prime more impulsive preference-based decisions or more normative optimal decisions (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, 96 3- to 7-year-olds showed age-related improvements and interactive effects between age and perspective on DoG performance. In Experiment 2, 132 3- to 7-year-olds showed age-related improvements and a marginal interaction between age and perspective on DoG performance, but no effect of auxiliary verbs was detected. Results are discussed in terms of differing developmental trajectories of DoG for self and other due to psychological distancing, and how taking another’s perspective may boost DoG in younger children but not older children.