• Emerging themes in the development of prospective memory during childhood

      Mahy, Caitlin; Kliegel, Matthias; Marcovitch, Stuart (Elsevier, 2014)
      Six years ago, Kvavilashvili, Kyle, and Messer (2008) called for more research in the area of chil dren’s prospective memory (PM), defined as the ability to remember to carry out delayed intentions (Einstein & McDaniel, 1990). At that time, the literature on PM in children was scant, although a few well-developed paradigms were available to measure PM in preschool-age children (Kvavilashvili, Messer, & Ebdon, 2001) and older children during middle childhood (Kerns, 2000). Although there is still much work to be done, the last few years have seen a steep rise in the number of studies on the topic of PM during childhood examining children as young as 2 years using a wide variety of time- and event-based PM paradigms. This recent increase in research activity in children’s PM was reflected in the high number of initial submissions for this special issue (20 manuscripts). The current special issue on the development of PM during childhood offers an overview of this burgeoning area of research, studying children from toddlerhood to adolescence, who are typically and atypically developing, using a wide variety of methods, including naturalistic tasks, experimental tasks, and parent report measures. In what follows, we first discuss the four sections of this special issue: PM research during early childhood, PM and episodic future thinking, PM in clinical populations, and PM during adolescence. We then highlight some emerging themes in this collection of articles that cut across these sections and highlight the contribution such topics will make to the field of PM.
    • 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.