Executive functioning and prospective memory in young children
The current study examined the role of executive functioning (EF) in children's prospective memory (PM) by assessing the effect of delay and number of intentions to-be-remembered on PM, as well as relations between PM and EF. Ninety-six 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds completed a PM task and two executive function tasks. The PM task required children to interrupt an ongoing card game to perform one action (single intention) or two actions (dual intention) with target cards after a short delay (1 min) or a long delay (5 min). There was no main effect of number of intentions or delay on the PM task. However, performance improved with age, and age and delay interacted such that 4-year-olds’ performance remained the same after a long delay whereas 5-year-olds’ performance improved after a long delay. We suggest that the age by delay interaction is a product of age differences in cognitive monitoring. Working memory but not inhibitory control predicted PM with age controlled. We argue that an executive function framework permits an integrative understanding of many processes involved in young children's prospective memory.