Meier, Beat; Matter, Sibylle; Baumann, Brigitta; Walter, Stefan Markus; Koenig, Thomas (2014). From episodic to habitual prospective memory: ERP-evidence for a linear transition. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8, p. 489. Frontiers Research Foundation 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00489
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Performing a prospective memory task repeatedly changes the nature of the task from episodic to habitual. The goal of the present study was to investigate the neural basis of this transition. In two experiments, we contrasted event-related potentials (ERPs) evoked by correct responses to prospective memory targets in the first, more episodic part of the experiment with those of the second, more habitual part of the experiment. Specifically, we tested whether the early, middle, or late ERP-components, which are thought to reflect cue detection, retrieval of the intention, and post-retrieval processes, respectively, would be changed by routinely performing the prospective memory task. The results showed a differential ERP effect in the middle time window (450 - 650 ms post-stimulus). Source localization using low resolution brain electromagnetic tomography analysis (LORETA) suggests that the transition was accompanied by an increase of activation in the posterior parietal and occipital cortex. These findings indicate that habitual prospective memory involves retrieval processes guided more strongly by parietal brain structures. In brief, the study demonstrates that episodic and habitual prospective memory tasks recruit different brain areas.