Failure of prospective memory and not carelessness is the reason why even the most careful and skilled professionals sometimes forget to do even the simplest of task which they have done thousands of times before.
Researchers led by NASA Ames Research Center scientist R Key Dismukes looked into how the prospective memory affects the day-to-day interactions between the tasks at hand and the normal cognitive processing which often cause memory failure, sometimes leading to disastrous effects.
The researchers said that one of the major reasons for prospective memory failure is deciding in advance how a task has to be done and getting distracted by the current task on hand and thereby forgetting that a task that had been initially thought was not done.
Dismukes said that while in majority of the times such forgetfulness causes annoyance, it may sometimes lead to disastrous and tragic consequences. "Every summer several infants die in hot cars when parents leave the car, forgetting the child is sleeping quietly in the back seat", he said. The study has been published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.