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An ecologically valid examination of event-based and time-based prospective memory using immersive virtual reality: the effects of delay and task type on everyday prospective memory
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  • Panagiotis Kourtesis ,
  • Simona Collina ,
  • Leonidas A. A. Doumas ,
  • Sarah E. MacPherson
Panagiotis Kourtesis
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Simona Collina
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Leonidas A. A. Doumas
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Sarah E. MacPherson
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Recent research has focused on assessing either event- or time-based prospective memory (PM) using laboratory tasks. Yet, the findings pertaining to PM performance on laboratory tasks are often inconsistent with the findings on corresponding naturalistic experiments. Ecologically valid neuropsychological tasks resemble the complexity and cognitive demands of everyday tasks, offer an adequate level of experimental control, and allow a generalisation of the findings to everyday performance. The Virtual Reality Everyday Assessment Lab (VR-EAL), an immersive virtual reality neuropsychological battery with enhanced ecological validity, was implemented to comprehensively assess everyday PM (i.e., focal and non-focal event-based, and time-based). The effects of the length of delay between encoding and initiating the PM intention and the type of PM task on everyday PM performance were examined. The results revealed that everyday PM performance was affected by the length of delay rather than the type of PM task. The effect of the length of delay differentially affected performance on the focal, non-focal, and time-based tasks and was proportional to the PM cue focality (i.e., semantic relationship with the intended action). This study also highlighted methodological considerations such as the differentiation between functioning and ability, distinction of cue attributes, and the necessity of ecological validity.