Time-based prospective memory in severe traumatic brain injury patients: the involvement of executive functions and time perception

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2012 Jul;18(4):697-705. doi: 10.1017/S1355617712000306. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


Prospective memory (PM) is the ability to remember to perform a future action at a specified later time, which is investigated through the use of event-based and time-based tasks. Prior investigations have found that PM is impaired following traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, there is limited information regarding the cognitive functions that mediate TBI and PM performance. Thus, this study investigated time-based PM in TBI patients, and the relationship among time-based PM, time perception, and executive functions. To accomplish this objective, 18 severe TBI patients and 18 healthy matched controls performed a time-based PM task, a time reproduction task, and two executive functions (Stroop and n-back) tasks. While both groups increased their monitoring frequency close to the target time, TBI patients monitored more and were less accurate than healthy controls at the target time confirming the time-based PM dysfunction in these patients. Importantly, executive functions, particularly inhibition and updating abilities, were strongly related to time-based PM performance; both time perception and executive functions are involved in time-based prospective memory in controls, whereas, only executive functions appear to be involved in TBI time-based prospective memory performance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Recall
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Perception*
  • Young Adult