Implementation intentions and prospective memory among older adults: An investigation of the role of frontal lobe function

Craig P. McFarland, Elizabeth L. Glisky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Prospective memory (PM) among older adults has been shown to be influenced by frontal lobe (FL) function. An implementation intention (e.g., if situation X occurs, I will do Y) is a mnemonic strategy that may be particularly beneficial for individuals with low-FL function, as it has been suggested that implementation intentions produce heightened accessibility to environmental cues, and automatic triggering of previously formed intentions. The present study investigated the effectiveness of implementation intentions among 32 older adults characterized as possessing high- or low-FL function. Participants were placed into one of two conditions: Read-Only or Implementation Intentions, before being tested on a laboratory prospective memory task. Results indicated that older adults with high-FL composite scores demonstrated better PM than those with low-FL scores, and that those who made implementation intentions outperformed those who simply read task instructions. Of particular interest is the finding that high-FL participants benefited from implementation intentions, suggesting that implementation intentions may improve PM of all older adults regardless of FL function. Theoretical underpinnings of implementation intentions are discussed in the context of FL function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)633-652
Number of pages20
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Executive function
  • Frontal lobe function
  • Implementation intentions
  • Prospective memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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