Electrophysiological correlates of strategic monitoring in event-based and time-based prospective memory

Giorgia Cona, Giorgio Arcara, Vincenza Tarantino, Patrizia Silvia Bisiacchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prospective memory (PM) is the ability to remember to accomplish an action when a particular event occurs (i.e., event-based PM), or at a specific time (i.e., time-based PM) while performing an ongoing activity. Strategic Monitoring is one of the basic cognitive functions supporting PM tasks, and involves two mechanisms: a retrieval mode, which consists of maintaining active the intention in memory; and target checking, engaged for verifying the presence of the PM cue in the environment. The present study is aimed at providing the first evidence of event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with time-based PM, and at examining differences and commonalities in the ERPs related to Strategic Monitoring mechanisms between event- and time-based PM tasks. The addition of an event-based or a time-based PM task to an ongoing activity led to a similar sustained positive modulation of the ERPs in the ongoing trials, mainly expressed over prefrontal and frontal regions. This modulation might index the retrieval mode mechanism, similarly engaged in the two PM tasks. On the other hand, two further ERP modulations were shown specifically in an event-based PM task. An increased positivity was shown at 400-600 ms post-stimulus over occipital and parietal regions, and might be related to target checking. Moreover, an early modulation at 130-180 ms post-stimulus seems to reflect the recruitment of attentional resources for being ready to respond to the event-based PM cue. This latter modulation suggests the existence of a third mechanism specific for the event-based PM; that is, the "readiness mode".

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31659
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 21 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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