A review of prospective memory impairments in developmental dyslexia: evidence, explanations, and future directions

Clin Neuropsychol. 2018 Jul;32(5):816-835. doi: 10.1080/13854046.2017.1369571. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Objective: The effects of developmental dyslexia are not restricted solely to the processes involved in reading and spelling. Despite this broader impact on cognition, there has been very little dyslexia-related research on prospective memory (PM; memory for delayed intentions) until very recently. This paper focuses on reviewing a recent program of research which sought to explore this memory system in adults with dyslexia.

Method: The review focuses mainly on studies of adults with dyslexia in which PM was compared with that of IQ-matched adults without dyslexia across clinical measures, computerized tests, self-report questionnaire, and more naturalistic tasks.

Results: Across the reviewed studies, the adults with dyslexia showed a range of impairments in both laboratory and everyday settings. Dyslexia-related PM impairments occurred predominantly when cues to remembering were time-based rather than being cued by events in the environment, when delays to act upon the intention were prolonged, and when tasks were one-off events rather than being habitual. As well as being less accurate in their PM, the participants with dyslexia were also less likely to remember PM instructions over longer delay periods.

Conclusions: PM deficits in dyslexia are considered in terms of the retrospective and prospective components of PM function. Less efficient access to verbal information in long-term memory, problems with time perception, and poorer executive functions are all considered as potential explanations for less accurate PM in dyslexia. The findings from the research program are linked to broader dyslexia theory and research. Some potential means for supporting individuals with dyslexia are considered.

Keywords: Developmental dyslexia; executive functioning; prospective memory; retrospective memory; time perception.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dyslexia / diagnosis*
  • Dyslexia / epidemiology
  • Dyslexia / psychology*
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Memory Disorders / epidemiology
  • Memory Disorders / psychology*
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires