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When Distraction Holds Relevance: A Prospective Memory Benefit for Older Adults

Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Lori E. James
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(6), 6523-6541;
Received: 16 April 2015 / Revised: 1 June 2015 / Accepted: 3 June 2015 / Published: 9 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Aging and Cognition)
Evidence is accumulating to show that age-related increases in susceptibility to distracting information can benefit older more than young adults in several cognitive tasks. Here we focus on prospective memory (i.e., remembering to carry out future intentions) and examine the effect of presenting distracting information that is intention-related as a function of age. Young and older adults performed an ongoing 1-back working memory task to a rapid stream of pictures superimposed with to-be-ignored letter strings. Participants were additionally instructed to respond to target pictures (namely, animals) and, for half of the participants, some strings prior to the targets were intention-related words (i.e., animals). Results showed that presenting intention-related distracting information during the ongoing task was particularly advantageous for target detection in older compared to young adults. Moreover, a prospective memory benefit was observed even for older adults who showed no explicit memory for the target distracter words. We speculate that intention-related distracter information enhanced the accessibility of the prospective memory task and suggest that when distracting information holds relevance to intentions it can serve a compensatory role in prospective remembering in older adults. View Full-Text
Keywords: prospective memory; aging; distraction; lures; inhibition prospective memory; aging; distraction; lures; inhibition
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Lourenço, J.S.; Maylor, E.A. When Distraction Holds Relevance: A Prospective Memory Benefit for Older Adults. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 6523-6541.

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