Is pre-stimulus brain activity predicting later recollection related to sustained or to task switching attentional processes?

Padovani, Tullia; König, Thomas; Eckstein, Doris; Perrig, Walter (13 September 2011). Is pre-stimulus brain activity predicting later recollection related to sustained or to task switching attentional processes? (Unpublished). In: 12th Congress of the Swiss Society of Psychology, Paper Symposium Cognitive Control in perception and Action. University of Fribourg. 12.09.-13.09.2011.

Memory formation is generally thought to rely on brain activity following an event, but previous research has challenged this assumption by showing that pre-stimulus ERP activity predicts later recollection (SME, subsequent memory effect). In the present experiment we analyzed the electrical activity elicited by the random presentation of two different cues presented before a target word: one cue induced an emotional decision task, the other a semantic decision task. Later we tested the retrieval of each previously presented word with a recognition memory test.
We intended to determine whether the SME is due to sustained attentional processes or to a reorientation of attentional processes, which occurs when switching between task sets. Our results suggest that the neural activity preceding the word presentation can be modulated by repeated or switched cue presentations. This allows different predictions on whether the word will be later recollected or forgotten. Computing global statistics on the scalp electric fields, we found a topographic interaction between the two conditions and the SME: This suggests that different generators mediated the recollection-effective encoding of stimuli when cues were constantly switched, compared to the case when cues remained stable across trials. These different generators were identified with sLORETA and differences in activation levels were measured with the Global Field Power (GFP).
These topographic effects may reflect differences in preparatory processes that precede efficient encoding into episodic memory. Furthermore, the differences between the two conditions could be interpreted as distinct neural markers associated with the recruitment of processing resources that lead to recollection performance. The outcome of this experiment highlights differences in learning processes and provides evidence for a greater contribution of task set (re-)configuration than sustained attention mechanisms to the pre-stimulus SME.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Psychological and Behavioral Health

UniBE Contributor:

Padovani, Tullia; König, Thomas; Eckstein, Doris and Perrig, Walter


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Dr. Tullia Padovani

Date Deposited:

17 Aug 2016 08:25

Last Modified:

17 Aug 2016 08:25


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