Electrophysiological evidence for retrieval mode immediately after a task switch

Lisa H Evans, Angharad N Williams, Edward L Wilding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


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 retrieval were more positive-going at right-frontal sites than when they prepared for the perceptual task. This index was 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-440
Number of pages6
Early online date3 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult
  • Retrieval mode
  • Episodic memory
  • Task-switching
  • Event-related potentials (ERPs)
  • Task-set
  • Retrieval preparation


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