Individual differences in the delayed execution of prospective memories

B. Hunter Ball, Justin B. Knight, Michael R. Dewitt, Gene Brewer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Working memory processes play a critical role in actively maintaining, rehearsing, and retrieving goal-relevant information during cognitively engaging tasks. In the current study, we examined individual differences in prospective memory between young adults with high versus low working memory capacity (WMC) when they had to momentarily delay their intentions for either 6 or 42 s. In Experiments 1 and 2, high-WMC individuals performed significantly better at both delay intervals than did low-WMC individuals under standard ongoing task conditions. In Experiment 2, we included an interrupting task during the longer delay that decreased performance in the low-WMC relative to the high-WMC individuals. These results suggest that prospective memory performance is generally impaired across all retention intervals in low-WMC individuals, and that high-WMC individuals may be better able to retrieve the intention from long-term memory even when attention is interrupted by intervening activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2411-2425
Number of pages15
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2013


  • Prospective memory
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Physiology (medical)


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