Prospective memory, emotional valence and ageing

Peter G. Rendell, Louise H. Phillips, Julie D. Henry, Tristan Brumby-Rendell, Xochitl de la Piedad Garcia, Mareike Altgassen, Matthias Kliegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Emotional factors have been found to be an important influence on memory. The current study investigated the influence of emotional salience and age on a laboratory measure of prospective memory (PM); Virtual Week. Thirty young and 30 old adults completed Virtual Week, in which the emotional salience of the tasks at encoding was manipulated to be positive, negative or neutral in content. For event-based, but not time-based tasks, positivity enhancement in both age groups was seen, with a greater number of positive PM tasks being performed relative to neutral tasks. There was no negativity enhancement effect. Older adults showed generally poorer levels of PM, but they also demonstrated greater beneficial effects of positive valence compared to young. These effects of emotion on PM accuracy do not appear to reflect the retrospective component of the task as a different pattern of emotion effects was seen on the recall of PM content. Results indicate that older adults' difficulties in prospective remembering can be reduced where the tasks to be remembered are positive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)916-925
Number of pages10
JournalCognition & Emotion
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Prospective memory
  • Emotional saliency
  • Emotional valence
  • Positivity enhancement
  • Ageing
  • Event- and time-based
  • older-adults
  • visual-attention
  • age-differences
  • virtual week
  • information
  • retrieval
  • younger
  • tasks
  • mood


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