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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 4/2014

01-07-2014 | Original Article

The difficulty of letting go: moderators of the deactivation of completed intentions

Auteurs: Moritz Walser, Thomas Goschke, Rico Fischer

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 4/2014

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Abstract

Recent studies showed that prospective memory (PM) intentions might not be deactivated directly after completion. The residual activation leads to aftereffects which are reflected as interference in performance when former PM cues of old intentions are interspersed in the new task (i.e., intention deactivation failure, Walser et al., J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 38(4):1030–1044, 2012). In the present study, we investigated potential mechanisms that might support the deactivation process of completed intentions by manipulating the task demands (e.g., working memory load) between intention completion and measurement of aftereffects. Aftereffects on repeated PM-cue trials were found when working memory load was low (control condition), but were reduced when available resources were sparse (working memory load condition). When participants were asked to reflect upon the to-be-deactivated PM cue, subsequent aftereffects were increased. Further, overall aftereffects were larger for participants low in self-reported action control. Results show that the nature of the filler-task activity determines whether the representation of the completed intention is destabilized (working memory load) or strengthened (intention reflection). The (at least partial) overwriting of completed intention representations by new working memory task representations seems therefore to reflect a supporting factor for the deactivation of completed intentions.
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Voetnoten
1
Note that in the context of aftereffects of completed intentions the term “deactivation” should not be considered as a deliberate process, but rather refers to a passive process, as participants generally do not receive instructions to actively forget the completed intention representation.
 
2
It is nevertheless conceivable that the intention reflection task may also include central executive processing to some extent (e.g., retrieving PM from long-term memory, imaging features, etc.). We thank Suzanna Penningroth for mentioning this point. At the same time, however, this seems not to the extent than classical working memory load tasks that are frequently used to measure the limits of individual working memory capacity as in the tasks included in the working memory load filler task.
 
3
The finding of increased RTs on PMREPEATED trials compared to oddballREPEATED trials rules out the alternative explanation that increased RTs on PMREPEATED trials were due to an increased orientation reaction to familiar stimuli. As RTs on oddballREPEATED trials were even faster compared to oddball trials, we used in line with our previous study (Walser et al., 2012) regular oddball trials as more conservative baseline comparison for PMREPEATED trials.
 
4
We thank Michael Scullin for highlighting this point.
 
5
We are grateful to Julie Bugg for suggesting this analysis.
 
6
As participants hardly made any commission errors (overall during 24[0.02%] trials) we only computed an error analysis including all error types (i.e., commission errors, misses, ongoing-task errors). Note that the relatively low commission error rate compared to other paradigms (e.g., Scullin et al., 2012) might be because in our paradigm the symbolic PM information on PMREPEATED trials was completely irrelevant and thus could be ignored for performing the ongoing task. Further, the ongoing task digits which appeared in the PM block and Test block were at random and not associated with the PM cue. In contrast, other studies used specific words as PM cues which had to be processes completely on PMREPEATED trials, thereby increasing the probability of commission errors.
 
7
We thank Suzanna Penningroth for suggesting this paradigm.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
The difficulty of letting go: moderators of the deactivation of completed intentions
Auteurs
Moritz Walser
Thomas Goschke
Rico Fischer
Publicatiedatum
01-07-2014
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 4/2014
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-013-0509-5

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