Prospective Memory Function in Late Adulthood: Affect at Encoding and Resource Allocation Costs

Julie D. Henry*, Sebastian Joeffry, Gill Terrett, Nicola Ballhausen, Matthias Kliegel, Peter G. Rendell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Some studies have found that prospective memory (PM) cues which are emotionally valenced influence age effects in prospective remembering, but it remains unclear whether this effect reflects the operation of processes implemented at encoding or retrieval. In addition, none of the prior ageing studies of valence on PM function have examined potential costs of engaging in different valence conditions, or resource allocation trade-offs between the PM and the ongoing task. In the present study, younger, young-old and old-old adults completed a PM task in which the valence of the cues varied systematically (positive, negative or neutral) at encoding, but was kept constant (neutral) at retrieval. The results indicated that PM accuracy did not vary as a function of affect at encoding, and that this effect did not interact with age group. There was also no main or interaction effect of valence on PM reaction time in PM cue trials, indicating that valence costs across the three encoding conditions were equivalent. Old-old adults' PM accuracy was reduced relative to both young-old and younger adults. Prospective remembering incurred dual-task costs for all three groups. Analyses of reaction time data suggested that for both young-old and old-old, these costs were greater, implying differential resource allocation cost trade-offs. However, when reaction time data were expressed as a proportional change that adjusted for the general slowing of the older adults, costs did not differ as a function of group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0125124
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes




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