The Effects of Age and Task Difficulty on Prospective Memory
Lindsay Holland and Leslie Amundson (Giles Einstein), Penn State Behrend - Psychology
Recent research has shown no age-related differences in prospective memory (memory for actions to be performed in the future). The purpose of the present research was to explore conditions that could yield age differences in prospective memory. Given the general finding in the aging literature that difficult memory tasks are more likely to produce age differences, we varied the difficulty of subjects' prospective memory task. The design of this study was 2x2x2 factorial in which we varied subject age (young versus elderly), delay between the prospective memory instructions and the occurrence of the prospective memory task (15 versus 30 min.), and the complexity of the prospective memory message (Simple - remembering to press a response key when one target word appeared. Complex - remembering to press a response key when any one of four words appeared). The results produced a reliable interaction between age and complexity, indicating that young and elderly subjects did not differ with the simple prospective memory task but young subjects were more likely to remember to perform the complex task.
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