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Prospective memory (PM) is crucial to the maintenance of functional independence in late adulthood and is consistently impaired in mild cognitive impairment (MCI). There remains a need for brief but valid measures of this construct that can be used as part of a comprehensive clinical assessment of cognition. Since the distinctiveness of PM cues is argued to determine the degree of strategic, controlled demands of PM paradigms, two variants of a brief measure were developed, one of which presented low-salience and the other high-salience PM cues.
A large cohort of older adults with normal cognition or MCI was assessed with one of the two variants of our brief, novel measure of PM. Participants were asked to remember to execute PM tasks where the target cue was either high or low in salience, while concurrently engaged in an ongoing task of olfactory assessment.
The task was able to discriminate between groups of participants with MCI or no cognitive impairment, albeit with a small effect size. The high-salience cue improved performance on the PM task; however, there was no interaction of cue salience with group.
These results suggest that the temporal reliability and construct validity of very brief measures of the type used in this study need further exploration to determine their potential to provide meaningful insights into PM function. This measure may have utility as a brief screening tool, with identified deficits being followed up with a more comprehensive PM assessment.


School of Psychology

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Journal Article

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