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Seth Koslov, Jarrod Lewis-Peacock; Fluid and Adaptive Changes of Prospective Memory Control. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):853. doi: 10.1167/17.10.853.
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Prospective memory describes the ability of individuals to remember to perform goal-relevant actions in the future. The multiprocess view of prospective memory posits that two separable control processes underlie this ability: proactive control, which involves maintenance of goal information in working memory and monitoring of the environment for relevant cues to act; and reactive control, which involves the formation and automatic retrieval of cue-response associations from episodic memory to achieve goals. Previous research has demonstrated that individuals will engage proactive and reactive control strategies based on the demands of the task environment. Participants tend to rely on reactive control in situations with a high cognitive load, whereas proactive control is favored in situations with fewer cognitive demands. However, people don't always utilize the strategy best suited for a situation, which can lead to performance costs and memory failures. Being able to adaptively implement control strategies in response to changing task demands is important, but little is known about if and how people accomplish strategy flexibility. Here, we sought to characterize the dynamic adjustment of control strategies used for prospective remembering. Participants were asked to identify the reappearance of a picture target (a face or scene) while at the same time performing a visual search task. To bias strategy choices, we manipulated the attentional demands of the visual search task on a moment-to-moment basis using two metrics: target-to-distractor coherence and distractor variability. Behavioral results showed that a more difficult visual search task biased people towards reactive control, and a simpler visual search task biased them towards proactive control. Moreover, we found that people fluidly and incrementally shifted between control strategies in response to rapidly changing visual search demands. These results support a view of prospective memory in which the utilization of control strategy is highly flexible and adaptive to concurrent demands.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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