Acting with the future in mind: Testing competing prospective memory interventions

Julie D. Henry*, Alexandra Hering, Simon Haines, Sarah A. Grainger, Nick Koleits, Skye Mclennan, Rachel Pelly, Colleen Doyle, Nathan S. Rose, Matthias Kliegel, Peter G. Rendell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Prospective memory (PM) is a critical determinant of whether a person is able to lead an independent life. Because PM declines in late adulthood, an important question is therefore whether, and if so, which types, of PM interventions might lead to meaningful benefits. In the present study, we randomly assigned older adults to one of four conditions, in three of which participants received a structured PM intervention (Restorative, Compensatory, and Combined Restorative and Compensatory); the fourth was an Active Control condition. The results showed that there were significant gains on the PM training task used for both the Restorative and Combined conditions. We then analyzed change in PM tasks that were independent of the PM training task (Near Transfer). Only the Combined condition led to post-training improvement. Finally, we analyzed performance on measures of untrained cognitive abilities and everyday functioning: Far transfer effects were not evident for any intervention. These data align with prior literature in showing that interventions that target a single cognitive ability do not reliably generate far transfer effects, and additionally extend our understanding of these effects in two important ways. Firstly, they indicate that, even when the memory challenges that older adults are most concerned about are the direct target of restorative training, transfer effects to untrained cognitive domains may be difficult to achieve. Secondly, they indicate that for older adults whose primary goal is to enhance PM function, combining Restorative and Compensatory approaches is an effective approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-503
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • AGE
  • cognitive intervention
  • compensatory
  • prospective memory
  • restorative
  • transfer effects


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