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Prospective Memory

Definition
Prospective memory is the ability to remember to do something in the future (e.g., remembering to return someone's phone call, or the time and day of your dentist appointment next week).

Example
Listen to the following scenario that illustrates an everyday example of prospective memory in action. Click the audio icon when ready.


Play Audio  Transcript Demonstration of Prospective Memory: "I should have written it down."
<a href="../pages/prospective.wma">Download movie</a>

Demonstration of Prospective Memory

M is the male speaker
F is the female speaker

M. Hi Marilyn, I'm home.

F. Hi there.

M. I got the stuff at the store for you.

F. Urmm, where's the butter?

M. Did you ask me for butter?

F. Yeh.

M. What, tomato juice, celery and milk.

F. ...and butter.

M. You asked me for butter?

F. Yeh.

M. You should have written it down?
M. I should have written it down.


Examples of Prospective Memory


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Test your Prospective Memory

Try the following:

1. Click on the icon below to reveal a weekly appointment page.

2. Write down all your appointments for next week. See if you can do it without referring to your personal calendar or daytimer.

3. Compare your entries with the ones in your calendar or daytimer. How did you do?

Click here



Did you know?
Prospective memory can be enhanced with the aid of cues ("To Do" lists, grocery lists, appointment books, daytimers, etc.). Putting something in writing really helps.

Effects of aging on Prospective Memory
Some studies show that prospective memory declines with age while others do not. It seems to depend on the specific type of prospective memory task. However, older adults do just as well as younger adults in terms of prospective memory if allowed to write reminders to themselves (use cues).

Click the icon below to see a the comparison chart of the ability to recall future tasks (with and without cues) with age.

Tips to maintain or even improve your Prospective Memory

  • Get in the habit of writing down reminders to yourself (grocery lists, appointments, etc.)
  • Spend some time each day organizing your daily, weekly and monthly tasks.

View Chart Prospective Memory: Two Agegroups, with and without cues.



 
 
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