The role of declarative and procedural metamemory in event-based prospective memory in school-aged children
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Prospective memory (PM) develops considerably during the primary school years (7 or 8 years of age). Developmental changes have been mainly related to executive functions, although it has been recently suggested that PM would also potentially benefit from metamemory (MM). To date, only procedural MM, operationalized as performance predictions, has been investigated in relation to PM, whereas declarative MM has remained unexplored. Adults’ performance has been shown to improve with predictions, but only in a resource-demanding (i.e., categorical) PM task rather than a more automatic (i.e., specific) one. The aim of the current investigation was to study whether PM performance of 7-year-old children (N = 59) would benefit from performance predictions. Thus, half of the children predicted their performance and half of them received standard instructions for two PM tasks: one including categorical PM targets and one including specific ones. To investigate the processes underlying the retrieval of PM targets and the effect of predictions, we obtained measures for declarative MM, inhibitory control, and working memory (WM). Results revealed that children benefitted from performance predictions in the categorical PM task but not in the specific one. This advantage caused slower ongoing task response times, suggesting that strategic monitoring processes were enhanced. Moreover, PM performance was related to WM capacity and declarative MM. However, declarative MM mainly predicted PM advantage in the prediction group, showing that children with high MM knowledge benefitted especially from performance predictions. These findings are the first showing the important relation among procedural MM, declarative MM, and PM in school-aged children.