Neural bases of prospective memory: a meta-analysis and the "Attention to Delayed Intention" (AtoDI) model

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 May:52:21-37. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2015.02.007. Epub 2015 Feb 19.


Remembering to realize delayed intentions is a multi-phase process, labelled as prospective memory (PM), and involves a plurality of neural networks. The present study utilized the activation likelihood estimation method of meta-analysis to provide a complete overview of the brain regions that are consistently activated in each PM phase. We formulated the 'Attention to Delayed Intention' (AtoDI) model to explain the neural dissociation found between intention maintenance and retrieval phases. The dorsal frontoparietal network is involved mainly in the maintenance phase and seems to mediate the strategic monitoring processes, such as the allocation of top-down attention both towards external stimuli, to monitor for the occurrence of the PM cues, and to internal memory contents, to maintain the intention active in memory. The ventral frontoparietal network is recruited in the retrieval phase and might subserve the bottom-up attention captured externally by the PM cues and, internally, by the intention stored in memory. Together with other brain regions (i.e., insula and posterior cingulate cortex), the ventral frontoparietal network would support the spontaneous retrieval processes. The functional contribution of the anterior prefrontal cortex is discussed extensively for each PM phase.

Keywords: Activation likelihood estimation; Anterior cingulate cortex; Anterior prefrontal cortex; AtoDI; AtoM; Attention to Delayed Intention model; BA10; Bottom-up attention; DLPFC; Delayed intention; Frontoparietal network; Gateway Hypothesis; Insula; Meta-analysis; Multiprocess framework; Neuroimaging; Parietal cortex; Posterior cingulate cortex; Prospective memory; Spontaneous retrieval; Strategic monitoring; Top-down attention.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neurons / physiology*