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The dynamics of intention retrieval and coordination of action in event-based prospective memory

By Richard L. Marsh, Valerie Watson and Jason L. Hicks


Event-based prospective memory requires responding to cues in the environment that are associated with a previously established intention. Some researchers believe that intentions reside in memory with an above baseline level of activation, a phenomenon called the intention superiority effect. The authors of this study predicted that intention superiority would be masked by additional cognitive processes associated with successful event-based prospective memory. These additional processes include noticing the cue, retrieving the intention, and coordinating intention execution with the ongoing activity. In 3 experiments, intention superiority was demonstrated by faster latencies to the ongoing activity on failed prospective trials and the existence of the additional processes was demonstrated by slower latencies on successful trials. This study demonstrates the importance of investigating the microstructure of the cognitive components involved with processing and responding to an event-based prospective memory cue. In the course of everyday life people often encounter cues in their environment that cause them to recollect events that occurred in the past. For example, a sheaf of papers collected at a conference may evoke memories of a recent trip, or the sight of

Year: 2002
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