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Prospective Memory

Prospective Memory
An Overview and Synthesis of an Emerging Field

February 2007 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

While there are many books on retrospective memory, or remembering past events, Prospective Memory: An Overview and Synthesis of an Emerging Field is the first authored text to provide a straightforward and integrated foundation to the scientific study of memory for actions to be performed in the future. Authors Mark A. McDaniel and Gilles O. Einstein present an accessible overview and synthesis of the theoretical and empirical work in this emerging field.

Key Features:

  • Focuses on students rather than researchers: While there are many edited works on prospective memory, this is the first authored text written in an accessible style geared toward students.
  • Provides a general approach for the controlled, laboratory study of prospective memory: The authors place issues and research on prospective memory within the context of general contemporary themes in psychology, such as the issue of the degree to which human behavior is mediated by controlled versus automatic processes.
  • Investigates the cognitive processes that underlie prospective remembering: Examples are provided of event-based, time-based, and activity-based prospective memory tasks while subjects are engaged in ongoing activities to parallel day-to-day life.
  • Suggests fruitful directions for further advancement: In addition to integrating what is now a fairly loosely connected theoretical and empirical field, this book goes beyond current work to encourage new theoretical insights.

Intended Audience:

This relatively brief book is an excellent supplemental text for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses such as Memory, Human Memory, and Learning & Memory in the departments of psychology and cognitive science.

1. Prospective Memory: A New Research Enterprise
What is a Prospective Memory Task?

Scientific Study of Prospective Memory

2. Monitoring in Prospective Memory
Attentional Monitoring

Preparatory Attentional Processes

To Monitor or Not to Monitor: When is the Question


3. Spontaneous Retrieval in Prospective Remembering
Costs of Prospective Memory: Always Present?

Spontaneous Retrieval

Spontaneous Retrieval as a Reflexive Associative Memory Process

Spontaneous Noticing


Chapter 4. Multiprocess Theory of Prospective Memory
An Advantage of the Multiprocess Theory

Multiprocess Theory

Parameters of the Ongoing Task

Parameters of Prospective Memory Cues

Importance of the Prospective Memory Task

Individual Differences and Intra-Individual Differences



5. Storage and Retention of Intended Actions
Goschke and Kuhl’s Paradigm

Extending the Intention Superiority Effect

Retention of Intended Actions Over Time: Immune to Forgetting?

Retrieval of Intentions During the Retention Interval


6. Planning and Encoding of Intentions

Implementation Intentions

Individual Differences


7. Prospective Memory and Life Span Development
Prospective Memory in Children

Prospective Memory in Older Adults

Summary and Observations

8. Cognitive Neuroscience of Prospective Memory
The Neuropsychology of Prospective Memory

Neuroimaging and Prospective Memory

Event-Related Brain Potentials (ERPs)

Summary and Future Directions

9. Prospective Memory as it Applies to Work and Naturalistic Settings
General Recommendations for Improving Prospective Memory

An Analysis of a Prospective Memory Failure as Possible Interventions

Limitations of Generalizing to Applied and Natural Settings on the Basis of Existing Laboratory Experiments

Non-laboratory Methods for Investigating Prospective Memory

External Reminding Devices


10. Final Thoughts

In their new book, McDaniel & Einstein provide a direly needed review of this fascinating new field, providing important information for researchers, clinicians, and laypeople alike on how basic cognitive science is coming to a "big picture" understanding of prospective memory. The authors write very clearly, avoiding jargon and remaining casual while nonetheless maintaining the intellectual "pace" that is more commonly found in peer-reviewed journal articles. Highly recommended to students of psychology who are curious about an up-and-coming area of research that is ripe for further work.

Chris Chatham
Developing Intelligence
Developing Intelligence

The processing of information in a sporting context is vital for performance. Team sports frequently have playbooks that contain hundreds of plays that are not always easy to remember. Understanding memory process will help in particular tasks that do not require immediate attention which makes this book very suitable for supplementary reading.

Mr Ian Sherwin
Physical Education & Sports Sciences, University of Limerick
November 11, 2014

This is a great book that is both stimulating and easy to read. It successfully summarises the main advances in this emerging field and fully captures 2 decades of research on Prospective memory

Dr Florentia Hadjiefthyvoulou
Psychology, Nottingham Trent Univ.
September 22, 2014

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

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This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.