The Development of Prospective Memory in Typically Developing Children

T.-X. Yang, R.C.K. Chan, Ho Keung David Shum

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aimed to use specifically designed tasks to capture time-based, activity-based, and event-based prospective memory (PM) performance in typically developing school-age children. Method: Two PM tasks (Fishing Game & Happy Week) were used to examine the developmental patterns of PM in these children. Retrospective memory (RM) was also examined in these tasks. A total of 120 children aged between 7 and 12 years (10 girls and 10 boys in each age band) were recruited. Tests of working memory, inhibition, and IQ were also administered. Results: The age effect on PM accuracy was significant, with improvements identified between ages 7 to 8 and 10 to 11 years. For both tasks, performance on the time-based PM task was significantly poorer than that on the event-based PM task, which in turn was significantly poorer than that on the activity-based PM task. In terms of errors, results indicated that while errors associated with the PM component of the tasks decreased with age, errors associated with the RM component showed an inverted-U shape. The different patterns of errors suggest qualitative as well as quantitative differences in PM development in children. Finally, IQ, working memory, and inhibition were found to relate to PM when age was partialed out. Conclusions: Results of the study highlight the importance of contextual cues, such as activities and events, for prospective remembering in children. In addition, they have provided a general picture of PM development in school-age children and have implications for educators and parents. © 2011 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-352
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Children
  • Development
  • Prospective memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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