Loads and loads and loads: the influence of prospective load, retrospective load, and ongoing task load in prospective memory

Meier, Beat; Zimmermann, Thomas D. (2015). Loads and loads and loads: the influence of prospective load, retrospective load, and ongoing task load in prospective memory. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 9(322), pp. 1-12. Frontiers Research Foundation 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00322

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In prospective memory tasks different kinds of load can occur. Adding a prospective memory task can impose a load on ongoing task performance. Adding ongoing task load (OTL) can affect prospective memory performance. The existence of multiple target events increases prospective load (PL) and adding complexity to the to-be-remembered action increases retrospective load (RL). In two experiments, we systematically examined the effects of these different types of load on prospective memory performance. Results showed an effect of PL on costs in the ongoing task for categorical targets (Experiment 2), but not for specific targets (Experiment 1). RL and OTL both affected remembering the retrospective component of the prospective memory task. We suggest that PL can enhance costs in the ongoing task due to additional monitoring requirements. RL and OTL seem to impact the division of resources between the ongoing task and retrieval of the retrospective component, which may affect disengagement from the ongoing task. In general, the results demonstrate that the different types of load affect prospective memory differentially.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Psychological and Behavioral Health
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Cognition, Learning and Memory (CCLM)

UniBE Contributor:

Meier, Beat


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Frontiers Research Foundation




Anna Maria Ruprecht Künzli

Date Deposited:

17 Jun 2015 10:54

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:34

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

prospective memory, intention, cognitive load, cognitive resources, remembering, future thinking





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