Conceptual and perceptual processes in prospective remembering: Differential influence of attentional resources

D. McGann, J. A. Ellis, Alan Berkeley Milne

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    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Does prospective remembering rely on strategic, attentionally demanding processes? We report three experiments suggesting that the extent to which attentional processes are required varies according to the character of ongoing task processing. Study-test changes in the semantic context of targets had a negative effect on prospective memory performance when participants were engaged in a conceptually focused (sentence verification) task (Experiment 1). Similarly, prospective remembering was lower following study-test changes in perceptual format (font) in the context of a perceptually focused (readability rating) ongoing task (Experiment 2). However, although dividing attention at retrieval had a negative effect during the performance of an ongoing conceptual task (Experiments 1 and 3), it had no effect during an ongoing perceptual task (Experiments 2 and 3). Thus, both perceptual and conceptual process are implicated in prospective remembering, but the processing focus of the task in which remembering should occur may mediate the requirement for strategic processes. These findings suggest that more than one retrieval route is available for prospective remembering and that selection of the route depends on the nature of the task and the processing that occurs at encoding and retrieval.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1021-1032
    Number of pages11
    JournalMemory & Cognition
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002


    • prospective memory
    • recognition memory
    • divided attention
    • working-memory
    • retrieval
    • framework
    • implicit
    • tests
    • context


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