The Encoding and Retrieval of Prospective Memory Cues

Open Access
Renko, Abagayle Elizbeth
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Richard Alan Carlson, Thesis Supervisor
  • Richard Alan Carlson, Honors Advisor
  • Kenneth Levy, Faculty Reader
  • memory
  • prospective memory
  • cue type
  • cue format
  • encoding
  • retrieval
  • reminder
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of prospective memory (PM) cue type and format on the accuracy and response time of participants, as well as to delineate between the encoding and retrieval of cues based on cue format. To investigate this, a computerized task was designed and administered to forty-four college-aged students. Within-subjects effects for the main variables as well as interactions between variables were significant. Cue type was significant for both accuracy and response time; participants were more accurate and had faster response times with item cues than with category cues. Cue format was significant for retrieval accuracy and encoding response time, but not for encoding accuracy or for retrieval response time. The effect of the cue type on participant accuracy differed for retrieval of word and picture cues; accuracy was high for item type regardless of retrieval format, while retrieval of word categorical cues resulted in notably lower accuracy than retrieval of picture categorical cues. Though participants were more accurate overall with item cue types, the degree of their accuracy depended on the cue format and whether that format was the same for encoding and retrieval (a ‘match’) or not (a ‘mismatch’). Participants were more accurate in match situations across all conditions, with a word-word match demonstrating the highest participant accuracy amongst item cues but a picture-picture match demonstrating the highest accuracy amongst category cues. Encoding format was key amongst the mismatches because regardless of cue type, participants were more accurate encoding words than pictures. Similarly, they were more accurate retrieving pictures than words. In conclusion, these results cumulatively suggest that accuracy in completing a prospective memory task is maximized when the cue itself is an item encoded and retrieved in word format.