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.
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