Prospective memory (PM) includes the encoding and maintenance of an intention, and the retrieval and execution of this intention at the proper moment in the future. The present study expands upon previous behavioral, electrophysiological, and functional work by examining the association between grey matter volume and PM. Estimates of grey matter volume in theoretically relevant regions of interest (prefrontal, parietal, and medial temporal) were obtained in conjunction with performance on two PM tasks in a sample of 39 cognitively normal and very mildly demented older adults. The first PM task, termed focal in the literature, is supported by spontaneous retrieval of the PM intention whereas the second, termed non-focal, relies on strategic monitoring processes for successful intention retrieval. A positive relationship was observed between medial temporal volume and accuracy on the focal PM task. An examination of medial temporal lobe subregions revealed that this relationship was strongest for the hippocampus, which is considered to support spontaneous memory retrieval. There were no significant structure-behavior associations for the non-focal PM task. These novel results confirm a relationship between behavior and underlying brain structure proposed by the multiprocess theory of PM, and extend findings on cognitive correlates of medial temporal lobe integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3795-3800
Number of pages6
Issue number14
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Aging
  • Episodic memory
  • Hippocampus
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Structural MRI


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