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Int J Psychophysiol. 2007 Jun;64(3):226-32. Epub 2006 Nov 20.

The role of noticing in prospective memory forgetting.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Zurich, Binzm├╝hlestrasse 14/24, CH-8050 Z├╝rich, Switzerland.


Two experiments used autonomic reactions (i.e., skin conductance responses; SCRs) in conjunction with behavioral responses to study retrieval processes in prospective memory. SCRs were recorded while participants performed a prospective memory task embedded in an ongoing task. Stimuli that received the same behavioral response (i.e., no prospective memory response) evoked different autonomic reactions as a function of whether they were versus were not prospective cues (Experiments 1 and 2) and as a function of whether they did versus did not share perceptual or conceptual features with prospective cues (Experiment 2). To the extent that SCRs provide an index of noticing a stimulus, increased SCRs for prospective cues and for stimuli that shared features with prospective cues (even though they were not responded to as prospective cues) provided evidence that noticing a stimulus is not invariably accompanied by recognizing the stimulus as a cue to perform an intended action. The results are consistent with the general 2-stages cue-focused view of prospective memory retrieval, which proposes that noticing a prospective cue prompts a directed memory search, which can result in recognizing the stimulus as a cue to perform an intended action and retrieving the intended action.

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