The cost of event-based prospective memory: salient target events

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2007 Jul;33(4):734-46. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.33.4.734.


Evidence has begun to accumulate showing that successful performance of event-based prospective memory (PM) comes at a cost to other ongoing activities. The current study builds on previous work by examining the cost associated with PM when the target event is salient. Target salience is among the criteria for automatic retrieval of intentions according to the multiprocess view of PM. An alternative theory, the preparatory attentional and memory processes theory, argues that PM performance, including retrieval of the intent, is never automatic and successful performance always will come at a cost to other ongoing activity. The 4 experiments reported here used a salient PM target event. In addition, Experiments 3 and 4 were designed to meet the stringent criteria proposed for automatic retrieval of intentions by multiprocess theory, and, yet, in all 4 experiments, delayed intentions interfered with ongoing task performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Memory*
  • Reaction Time
  • Vocabulary