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Aging and prospective memory: The role of working memory and monitoring processes

  • Autori: Bisiacchi, Patrizia S.*; Tarantino, Vincenza; Ciccola, Alessia
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2008
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


Background and aims: Remembering to execute an earlier planned action is essential in everyday life, and is a prerequisite for independent living in old age. The purpose of the present study was to determine the influence of age in performing a prospective memory (PM) task and to analyze the differential contribution of working memory and attentional monitoring demands. Methods: In Experiment 1, a group of young and two groups of old adults were assigned to one of two low-demanding conditions: a picture-naming task (only-Naming) and a picture-naming plus a PM task (Naming+PM). In Experiment 2, a group of young and two groups of old adults performed one of two high-demanding conditions, in which working memory and attentional monitoring processes were examined, using a listening span-like task and a 1-back task within the PM paradigm of Experiment 1. Results: Prospective memory performance declined with age even in the low-demanding condition (Experiment 1). Young participants showed PM failures only when the 1-back task was added to the low-demanding condition. Older participants exhibited a marked decline, particularly in the working memory load condition. Conclusions: These results suggest that even low-demanding prospective memory tasks are resource-consuming in old age, and that working memory efficiency, affected by the aging process, plays a crucial role in the successful accomplishment of PM actions. © 2008, Editrice Kurtis.