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Electrophysiological evidence for retrieval mode immediately after a task switch

Evans, Lisa H.; Williams, Angharad N.; Wilding, Edward L.

Electrophysiological evidence for retrieval mode immediately after a task switch Thumbnail


Lisa H. Evans

Angharad N. Williams

Edward L. Wilding


It has been suggested that retrieving episodic information can involve adopting a cognitive state or set: retrieval mode. In a series of studies, an event-related potential (ERP) index of retrieval mode has been identified in designs which cue participants on a trial-by-trial basis to switch between preparing for and then completing an episodic or non-episodic retrieval task. However, a confound in these studies is that along with task type the content of what is to be retrieved has varied. Here we examined whether the ERP index of retrieval mode remains when the contents of an episodic and non-episodic task are highly similar – both requiring a location judgement. In the episodic task participants indicated the screen location where words had been shown in a prior study phase (left/right/new); whereas in the perceptual task they indicated the current screen location of the word (top/middle/bottom). Consistent with previous studies the ERPs elicited while participants prepared for episodic retrievalwere more positive-going at right-frontal sites than when they prepared for the perceptual task. This indexwas observed, however, on the first trial after participants had switched tasks, rather than on the second trial, as has been observed previously. Potential reasons for this are discussed, including the critical manipulation of similarity in contents between tasks, as well as the use of a predictable cue sequence.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 26, 2014
Online Publication Date Jan 3, 2015
Publication Date Mar 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jun 15, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jun 15, 2016
Journal NeuroImage
Print ISSN 1053-8119
Electronic ISSN 1095-9572
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 108
Keywords Retrieval mode; Episodic memory; Task-switching; Event-related potentials (ERPs); Task-set; Retrieval preparation
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