• 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 development of prospective memory in young schoolchildren: The impact of ongoing task absorption, cue salience, and cue centrality

      Kliegel, Matthias; Mahy, Caitlin E.V.; Voigt, Babett; Henry, Julie D.; Rendell, Peter G.; Aberle, Ingo (Elsevier, 2013)
      •9- and 10-year-olds outperformed 6- to 7-year-olds in event-based prospective memory. •Varying cue centrality, age effects only emerged with cues outside the center of attention. •Findings suggest developing executive control as cognitive mechanism. •Alternative conceptual explications are deeper encoding or changes in meta-memory. This study presents evidence that 9- and 10-year-old children outperform 6- and 7-year-old children on a measure of event-based prospective memory and that retrieval-based factors systematically influence performance and age differences. All experiments revealed significant age effects in prospective memory even after controlling for ongoing task performance. In addition, the provision of a less absorbing ongoing task (Experiment 1), higher cue salience (Experiment 2), and cues appearing in the center of attention (Experiment 3) were each associated with better performance. Of particular developmental importance was an age by cue centrality (in or outside of the center of attention) interaction that emerged in Experiment 3. Thus, age effects were restricted to prospective memory cues appearing outside of the center of attention, suggesting that the development of prospective memory across early school years may be modulated by whether a cue requires overt monitoring beyond the immediate attentional context. Because whether a cue is in or outside of the center of attention might determine the amount of executive control needed in a prospective memory task, findings suggest that developing executive control resources may drive prospective memory development across primary school age.
    • Do verbal reminders improve preschoolers’ prospective memory performance? It depends on age and individual differences

      Mahy, Caitlin; Mazachowsky, Tessa R.; Pagobo, Jacqueline R. (Elsevier, 2018)
      We 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.
    • Executive functioning and prospective memory in young children

      Mahy, Caitlin E.V.; Moses, Louis J. (Elsevier, 2011)
      The current study examined the role of executive functioning (EF) in children's prospective memory (PM) by assessing the effect of delay and number of intentions to-be-remembered on PM, as well as relations between PM and EF. Ninety-six 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds completed a PM task and two executive function tasks. The PM task required children to interrupt an ongoing card game to perform one action (single intention) or two actions (dual intention) with target cards after a short delay (1 min) or a long delay (5 min). There was no main effect of number of intentions or delay on the PM task. However, performance improved with age, and age and delay interacted such that 4-year-olds’ performance remained the same after a long delay whereas 5-year-olds’ performance improved after a long delay. We suggest that the age by delay interaction is a product of age differences in cognitive monitoring. Working memory but not inhibitory control predicted PM with age controlled. We argue that an executive function framework permits an integrative understanding of many processes involved in young children's prospective memory.
    • How executive functions are associated with event-based and time based prospective memory during childhood

      Zuber, Sascha; Mahy, Caitlin; Kliegel, Matthias (Elsevier, 2018)
      Age does not explain prospective memory performance above and beyond executive resources. Updating represents a general resource deployed by different PM tasks. Inhibition is particularly required to perform focal and non-focal event-based tasks. Shifting is specifically deployed by non-focal event-based time-based PM tasks. Time-monitoring is essential to succeed at time-based prospective memory tasks. A key developmental task of childhood is to gain autonomy and independence from parents and caregivers. Critical to this individualization process is the development of prospective memory (PM), the capacity to remember to carry out future intentions. In recent studies, children's PM performance has been associated with executive functions (EF). A closer inspection of the literature, however, suggests a differential impact of the three EF (updating, inhibition, and shifting) across different PM task types. The current study examined EF and PM capacities of 212 6- to 11-year-old children, examining for the first time both focal and non-focal event-based PM tasks as well as a time-based PM task in a single sample. Results show that age-differences did not persist above and beyond age differences in children's executive resources. Specifically, updating predicted children's performance on all PM tasks, inhibition predicted performance on both event-based PM tasks, whereas shifting was specifically deployed by the non-focal event-based task. Supplementary analyses of the time-based PM task illustrate how children monitor the progression of time and how preparatory processes support PM task performance. In sum, the current study presents the first comprehensive look at the specific role of age and three core EF in school-aged children's PM performance.
    • 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.
    • “I’ll remember everything no matter what!”: The role of metacognitive abilities in the development of young children’s prospective memory

      Lavis, Lydia; Mahy, Caitlin (Elsevier, 2021)
      Young children made prospective and retrospective memory predictions and postdictions. Children’s prospective memory postdictions were influenced by task difficulty. Children’s metacognitive monitoring was related to prospective memory predictions. With age, children’s metamemory judgements became more accurate. Overall, 4- to 6-year-olds are optimistic in their memory predictions and postdictions. Prospective memory (PM), the ability to remember to carry out future intentions, is a critical skill for children’s daily activities. Despite this, little is known about young children’s awareness of their PM ability (metamemory), how metamemory is affected by PM task difficulty, and how metacognitive abilities might be related to metamemory. The current study examined the effect of task difficulty on children’s PM predictions, actual performance, and postdictions and relations among episodic memory metamemory, metacognitive control, and executive functioning. Children aged 4 to 6 years (N = 131) made PM predictions, completed an easy or difficult PM task, and then made PM postdictions. Children also made predictions and postdictions for their performance on an episodic recall task and then completed an independent measure of metacognitive control and two measures of executive function (working memory and inhibition). Results showed that (a) children’s PM increased with age and was worse in the difficult PM task condition, (b) PM predictions and postdictions did not increase with age and only PM postdictions were affected by PM task difficulty; (c) children’s PM and episodic recall predictions and postdictions were more accurate with age, (d) children’s PM postdictions best predicted PM performance, whereas predictions best predicted episodic recall task performance, and (e) children with better metacognitive control had better PM and more accurate PM predictions. These results are discussed in terms of young children’s optimism surrounding their memory performance and the emergence of early metacognitive abilities.
    • 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.