Child neuropsychology : a journal on normal and abnormal development in childhood and adolescence

The impact of cognitive control on children's goal monitoring in a time-based prospective memory task.

PMID 25342074


The present study investigated whether developmental changes in cognitive control may underlie improvements of time-based prospective memory. Five-, 7-, 9-, and 11-year-olds (N = 166) completed a driving simulation task (ongoing task) in which they had to refuel their vehicle at specific points in time (PM task). The availability of cognitive control resources was experimentally manipulated by imposing a secondary task that required divided attention. Children completed the driving simulation task both in a full-attention condition and a divided-attention condition where they had to carry out a secondary task. Results revealed that older children performed better than younger children on the ongoing task and PM task. Children performed worse on the ongoing and PM tasks in the divided-attention condition compared to the full-attention condition. With respect to time monitoring in the final interval prior to the PM target, divided attention interacted with age such that older children's time monitoring was more negatively affected by the secondary task compared to younger children. Results are discussed in terms of developmental shifts from reactive to proactive monitoring strategies.