Whether having an intention produces a performance cost to ongoing activities (task interference) is central to theoretical claims regarding the mechanisms underlying cue detection in event-based prospective memory. Recent evidence suggests that task interference primarily reflects an attention allocation policy stored in memory when intentions are encoded. The present study examined whether these policies can change with ongoing task experience. In Experiment 1, task interference was more greatly reduced when expected cues were not presented than when they were. Experiment 2 replicated this effect when the importance of the prospective memory task was emphasized. In Experiment 3, task interference decreased with time, and this decrease was greater when expected cues were not presented than when they were. Cue presentation is crucial to maintenance of attention allocation policies established by task instructions. This is the first article to demonstrate changes in task interference with ongoing task experience without forewarning individuals of the relevance of upcoming ongoing task trials to intentions.
Loft, S., Kearney, R., & Remington, R. (2008). Is task interference in event-based prospective memory dependent on cue presentation? Memory & Cognition, 36(1), 139-148. https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.36.1.139