Errorless Learning of Prospective Memory Tasks: An Experimental Investigation in People with Memory Disorders

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The term Prospective Memory (PM) refers to memory for future intentions. PM problems are frequent in people with cognitive impairment and, because they are central to the realization of many everyday goals, are important in rehabilitation. Event-based PM tasks (EBPM) are environmentally-cued and have primarily mnemonic demands, whereas time-based PM tasks (TBPM) require self-initiated retrieval, and have greater executive demands. Errorless Learning (EL) is an encoding method that results in superior retrospective memory compared with ‘errorful’ learning. As this EL advantage (ELA) likely stems from its reduced explicit memory demands, and there is no such advantage for executive tasks, a greater ELA for EBPM than TBPM was predicted. Fourteen adults with neurological memory impairment completed PM tasks under four counterbalanced conditions: EL of EBPM, EL of TBPM, Errorful Learning of EBPM, and Errorful Learning of TBPM. A significant ELA was observed for EBPM (d=.63), but not TBPM (d=-.01). These results extend the evidence for EL within cognitive rehabilitation, by showing for the first time that the method can benefit future action in addition to retrospective memory. The clinical implications are also clear: errorless learning techniques may be usefully employed to support completion of day-to-day EBPM tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-188
Number of pages30
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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