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Title: Errorless learning of prospective memory tasks : an experimental investigation in people with memory disorders
Author: Fish, Jess
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Prospective Memory (PM), or the ability to act upon delayed intentions, is cognitively complex as it requires a combination of mnemonic, attentional and executive abilities. PM tasks can be particularly challenging for people with cognitive impairment, and it is important to identify effective means of rehabilitation. Errorless Learning (EL) is an encoding technique that results in superior recall and recognition memory performance compared with ‘errorful’ learning in people with memory impairment. This so-called ‘Errorless Learning advantage’ (ELA) has been attributed to implicit memory processes (Page et al., 2006), and there is a basis for predicting a similar beneficial effect on PM performance. However, PM tasks vary in their retrieval demands, some involving environmentally-cued retrieval of a cue-action association (referred to as Event-based PM tasks), and some requiring self-cued retrieval of the action to be performed (referred to as Time-based PM tasks). Event-based PM performance may, therefore, be seen to rely more upon mnemonic processes, and Time-based PM performance on more executive processes. Given there is no evidence suggesting an ELA for executive tasks, differential effects of EL on Time- and Event-based PM tasks were predicted. This study investigated these predictions. Fourteen participants with neurological memory impairment completed four computer-based PM tasks in a within-subjects 2x2 factorial experiment, with each factor having two levels: encoding method (Errorless, Errorful), and PM task type (Timebased, Event-based). A significant ELA was observed for Event-based PM (d=.63), but not for Time-based PM (d=-.01), and the interaction between encoding condition and task type approached significance (d=.41). Errorless Learning also resulted in reduced accuracy in participants’ retrospective estimates of how many opportunities there had been to perform the PM tasks, suggesting that encoding manipulations can affect metacognitive awareness of PM performance. These findings extend the existing evidence for the benefits of Errorless Learning within cognitive rehabilitation, by showing for the first time that EL can benefit future action in addition to performance on purely retrospective learning and retrieval tasks. There are also clear clinical implications of these results; day-to-day Event-based PM tasks (e.g. take your medication with breakfast, check you’ve got your keys before you go out the front door), if learned with Errorless methods, are more likely to be acted upon than tasks where errors have been made during learning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available