Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Interactive Effects in Transfer-Appropriate Processing for Event-Based Prospective Memory: The Roles of Effort, Ongoing Task, and PM Cue Properties

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Interactive Effects in Transfer-Appropriate Processing for Event-Based Prospective Memory: The Roles of Effort, Ongoing Task, and PM Cue Properties

Article excerpt

Abstract Past studies (e.g., Marsh, Hicks, & Cook Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 31:68-75, 2005; Meiser & Schult European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 20:290-311, 2008) have shown that transfer-appropriate processing (TAP) effects in event-based prospective memory (PM) depend on the effort directed toward the ongoing task. In the present study, we addressed mixed findings from these studies and examined monitoring in TAP and transfer-inappropriate processing (TIP) conditions. In two experiments, a semantic or orthographic ongoing task was paired with a PM cue that either was matched in processing (TAP) or did not match in processing (TIP). Within each condition, effort was varied across trials. The results indicated that PM accuracy was higher in TAP than in TIP conditions, regardless of effort condition, supporting the findings reported by Meiser and Schult. Ex-Gaussian functions were fit to the mean reaction times (cf. Brewer Journal of Psychology 219:117-124, 2011) in order to examine monitoring across conditions. The analysis of distributional skew (t parameter) showed sensitivity to ongoing task instructions and properties of the PM cues. These results support Meiser and Schult's suggestion that TIP conditions require more attentional pro- cessing, and they also afford novel discussion on the interactive effects of ongoing task condition, PM cue properties, and manipulations of effort.

Distributional analysis KKeywords Prospective memory Prospective memory (PM) involves remembering to perform an intended task at either the occurrence of a certain event or at a specific time, defined as event-based and time-based PM, respectively (Einstein & McDaniel, 1990). The present study focused on event-based PM. Many laboratory investigations of event-based PM have focused on factors that aid or hinder executing delayed intentions (Ellis, 1996) and have typically examined PM performance by having participants perform an ongoing task while embedding an additional PM task. For example, participants may be asked to perform the task of determining if letter strings are words or nonwords in addition to the task of pressing a specific key upon detection of a specific word or

a certain type of word. Relying on the popular notion of transfer-appropriate processing (TAP; e.g., Morris, Bransford, & Franks, 1977) that has been shown in numerous studies to affect retrospective memory (see Roediger, Weldon, & Challis, 1989), several PM studies (e.g., Maylor, 1996, 1998) have suggested that degree of processing overlap between the ongoing task and the PM task influences successful PM cue detection. The degree of overlap is typically defined as the degree to which the ongoing task allows for automatic processing of the relevant features of the PM cues. For example, if the PM task is to respond to animal words, a lexical decision ongoing task would allow for one to notice that items identified as words are also animal words. In this way, the processing needed for the lexical decision task overlaps with processing needed to identify PM cues (see Marsh, Hicks, & Cook, 2005). To test these ideas, Meier and Graf (2000)compared PM performance in conditions in which the ongoing tasks either matched the type of processing involved in the PM task or did not match the processing. Regardless of the type of processing involved (semantic or orthographic), PM perfor- mance was superior in conditions with a processing match. These results were also McGann, Ellis, and Milne (2003) and partially supported by findings reported by Marsh, Hicks, and Hancock (2000)and West and Craik (2001).

The way in which processing match between ongoing and PM tasks has been defined in past studies (e.g., Marsh et al., 2005;Maylor,1996, 1998) can be viewed as a weak form of focal processing as defined by Einstein and McDaniel (2005). Focal processing occurs when the ongoing task focuses pro- cessing on the features of the target item that are relevant for the PM task. …

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