Prospective memory is required for many aspects of everyday cognition, its breakdown may be as debilitating as impairments in retrospective memory, and yet, the former has received relatively little attention by memory researchers. This article outlines a strategy for changing the fortunes of prospective memory, for guiding new research to shore up the claim that prospective memory is a distinct aspect of cognition, and to obtain evidence for clear performance dissociations between prospective memory and other memory functions. We begin by (...) identifying the unique requirements of prospective memory tasks and by dividing memory's prospective functions into subdomains that are analogous to divisions in retrospective memory (e.g., short- versus long-term memory). We focus on one prospective function, called prospective memory proper; we define this function in the spirit of James (1890) as requiring that we are aware of a plan, of which meanwhile we have not been thinking, with the additional consciousness that we made the plan earlier. We give an operational definition of prospective memory proper and specify how it differs from explicit and implicit retrospective memory and how it might be empirically assessed. (shrink)
Hughes and Nicholson suggest that recognizing oneself is easier from face vs. voice stimuli, that a combined presentation of face and voice actually inhibits self-recognition relative to presentation of face or voice alone, that the left hemisphere is superior in self-recognition to the right hemisphere, and that recognizing self requires more effort than recognizing others. A re-examination of their method, data, and analyses unfortunately shows important ceiling effects that cast doubts on these conclusions.
Everyday tasks, such as getting groceries en route from work, involve two distinct components, one prospective (i.e., remembering the plan) and the other retrospective (i.e., remembering the grocery list). The present investigation examined the size of the age-related performance declines in these components, as well as the relationship between these components and age-related differences in processing resources. The subjects were 133 community-dwelling adults between 65 and 95 years of age. They completed a large battery of tests, including tests of pro- (...) and retrospective memory as well as tests for indexing processing resources. The results showed similar age-related declines in pro- and retrospective memory. There was only a weak relationship between pro- and retrospective memory, and the age-related decline in processing resources was related more strongly to retro- than prospective memory. (shrink)