Prospective memory performance follows an inverted U-shaped function across the lifespan. Findings on the relative contribution of purely prospective memory and retrospective memory processes within prospective memory to this trajectory are scarce and inconclusive. We analyzed age-related differences in prospective memory performance across the lifespan in a cross-sectional design including six age groups (N = 99, 7–83 years) and investigated possible mechanisms by experimentally disentangling the relative contributions of retrospective memory and purely prospective memory processes. Results confirmed the inverted U-shaped function of prospective memory performance across the lifespan. A significant interaction between process type and age group was observed indicating differential relative contributions of retrospective memory and purely prospective memory processes on the development of prospective memory performance. Our results showed that mainly the pure prospective memory processes within prospective memory lead to lower prospective memory performance in young children and old adults. Moreover, the relative contributions of the retrospective memory and purely prospective memory processes are not uniform at both ends of the lifespan, i.e., in later adulthood the purely prospective memory processes seem to determine performance to an even greater extent than in childhood. Nevertheless, age effects were also observed in the retrospective component which thus contributed to the prospective memory performance differences between the age groups.
|Number of pages||29|
|Journal||Aging Neuropsychology and Cognition|
|Early online date||20 Sep 2013|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|
- prospective memory
- retrospective memory processes
- executive functions