eCite Digital Repository

Cognitive control and capacity for prospective memory in complex dynamic environments


Boag, RJ and Strickland, L and Heathcote, A and Neal, A and Loft, S, Cognitive control and capacity for prospective memory in complex dynamic environments, Journal of Experimental Psychology, 148, (12) pp. 2181-2206. ISSN 0096-3445 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Pending copyright assessment - Request a copy


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: 10.1037/xge0000599

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1037/xge0000599


Performing deferred actions in the future relies upon Prospective Memory (PM). Often, PM demands arise in complex dynamic tasks. Not only can PM be challenging in such environments, the processes required for PM may affect the performance of other tasks. To adapt to PM demands in such environments, humans may use a range of strategies, including flexible allocation of cognitive resources and cognitive control mechanisms. We sought to understand such mechanisms by using the Prospective Memory Decision Control (Strickland, Loft, Remington, & Heathcote, 2018) model to provide a comprehensive, quantitative account of dual task performance in a complex dynamic environment (a simulated air traffic control conflict detection task). We found that PM demands encouraged proactive control over ongoing task decisions, but that this control was reduced at high time pressure to facilitate fast responding. We found reactive inhibitory control over ongoing task processes when PM targets were encountered, and that time pressure and PM demand both affect the attentional system, increasing the amount of cognitive resources available. However, as demands exceeded the capacity limit of the cognitive system, resources were reallocated (shared) between the ongoing and PM tasks. As the ongoing task used more resources to compensate for additional time pressure demands, it drained resources that would have otherwise been available for PM task processing. This study provides the first detailed quantitative understanding of how attentional resources and cognitive control mechanisms support PM and ongoing task performance in complex dynamic environments.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:prospective memory, cognitive control, capacity, resource theory, linear ballistic accumulator model
Research Division:Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Research Group:Cognitive Sciences
Research Field:Computer Perception, Memory and Attention
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
UTAS Author:Strickland, L (Dr Luke Strickland)
UTAS Author:Heathcote, A (Professor Andrew Heathcote)
ID Code:134808
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2019-09-05
Last Modified:2020-03-04
Downloads:12 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page