Sustaining prospective memory functioning in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: A lifespan approach to the critical role of encoding
Number of pages
SourceNeuropsychology, 32, 5, (2018), pp. 634-644
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectDI-BCB_DCC_Theme 3: Plasticity and Memory; Neuropsychology and rehabilitation psychology; Neuro- en revalidatiepsychologie
Objective: Prospective memory (PM), the ability to remember to perform future activities, is a fundamental requirement for independent living. PM tasks pervade our daily lives, and PM failures represent one of the most prominent memory concerns across the entire life span. This study aimed to address this issue by exploring the potential benefits of specific encoding strategies on memory for intentions across healthy adulthood and in the early stages of cognitive impairment. Method: PM performance was explored through an experimental paradigm in 96 participants: 32 amnestic mild cognitively impaired patients aged 64-87 years (M = 6.75, SD = 5.88), 32 healthy older adults aged 62-84 years (M = 76.06, SD = 6.03), and 32 younger adults 18-22 years (M = 19.75, SD = 1.16). The potential benefit of the use of enactment (i.e., physically simulating the intended action) at encoding to support an autonomous performance despite neuronal degeneration was assessed. Results: PM was consistently identified as a sensitive and specific indicator of cognitive impairment. Importantly, enacted encoding was consistently beneficial for PM performance of all the participants, but especially so in the case of healthy and cognitively impaired older adults. These positive results have unveiled the potential of this encoding technique to optimize attentional demands through an adaptive allocation of strategic resources across both healthy and cognitively impaired samples. Theoretical implications of this work are discussed as well as the considerable translational potential to improve social well-being. Conclusions: A better understanding of the strategies that can enhance PM offers the potential for cost-effective and widely applicable tools which may support independent living across the adult life span. General Scientific Summary This article explores a topic that bears particular public significance: encoding strategies that support and enhance memory for intentions across healthy adulthood and in the early stages of cognitive impairment, namely, in amnestic mild cognitive impairment. We discuss the considerable translational potential of this original framework to improve social well-being by enabling cost-effective and widely applicable tools that may support independent living across the adult life span.
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