Anticipatory signatures of voluntary memory suppression

Simon Hanslmayr, Philipp Leipold, Bernhard Pastötter, Karl-Heinz Bäuml

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Voluntary memory suppression can keep unwanted memories from entering consciousness, inducing later forgetting of the information. In the present study, we searched for the existence of anticipatory processes, mediating such voluntary memory suppression. Using the think/no-think paradigm, subjects received a cue whether to prepare to think of a previously studied cue-target pair or whether to not let a previously studied cue-target pair enter consciousness. Examining event-related potentials, we identified two electrophysiological processes of voluntary memory suppression: (1) an early anticipatory process operating before the memory cue for a to-be-suppressed memory was provided, and (2) a later process operating after memory cue presentation. Both ERP effects were due to a decreased right frontal and left parietal positivity. They were positively related and predicted later forgetting. The results point to the existence of anticipatory processes, mediating voluntary memory suppression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2742-7
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2009


  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Mental Recall
  • Parietal Lobe
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Repression, Psychology
  • Young Adult


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