On the antecedents of an electrophysiological signature of retrieval mode

Williams, Angharad N. and Evans, Lisa H. and Herron, Jane E. and Wilding, Edward L. (2016) On the antecedents of an electrophysiological signature of retrieval mode. PLoS ONE, 11 (12). e0167574/1-e0167574/19. ISSN 1932-6203

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It has been proposed that people employ a common set of sustained operations (retrieval mode) when preparing to remember different kinds of episodic information. In two experiments, however, there was no evidence for the pattern of brain activity commonly assumed to index these operations. In both experiments event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded time-locked to alternating preparatory cues signalling that participants should prepare for different retrieval tasks. One cue signalled episodic retrieval: remember the location where the object was presented in a prior study phase. The other signalled semantic retrieval: identify the location where the object is most commonly found (Experiment 1) or identify the typical size of the object (Experiment 2). In both experiments, only two trials of the same task were completed in succession. This enabled ERP contrasts between 'repeat' trials (the cue on the preceding trial signalled the same retrieval task), and `switch' trials (the cue differed from the preceding trial). There were differences between the ERPs elicited by the preparatory task cues in Experiment 1 only: these were evident only on switch trials and comprised more positive-going activity over right-frontal scalp for the semantic than for the episodic task. These findings diverge from previous outcomes where the activity differentiating cues signalling preparation for episodic or semantic retrieval has been restricted to rightfrontal scalp sites, comprising more positive-going activity for the episodic than for the semantic task. While these findings are consistent with the view that there is not a common set of operations engaged when people prepare to remember different kinds of episodic information, an alternative account is offered here, which is that these outcomes are a consequence of structural and temporal components of the experiment designs.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0167574
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2016 10:26
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:00
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/39430

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