Dissociating sub-processes of aftereffects of completed intentions and costs to the ongoing task in prospective memory: A mouse-tracking approach

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


In the present study, we used mouse tracking to investigate two processes underlying prospective memory (PM) retrieval: First, we aimed to explore to what extent spontaneous retrieval of already completed PM intentions is supported by reflexive-associative and discrepancy-plus-search processes. Second, we aimed to disentangle whether costs to an ongoing task during the pursuit of a PM intention are associated with presumably resource-demanding monitoring processes or with a presumably resource-sparing strategic delay of ongoing-task responses. Our third aim was to explore the interaction of processes underlying costs to the ongoing task and processes of spontaneous retrieval. Our analyses replicated response-time patterns from previous studies indicating aftereffects of completed intentions and costs to ongoing-task performance, as well as increased aftereffects while pursuing a PM intention. Notably, based on our mouse-tracking analyses, we argue that aftereffects of completed intentions are best explained by a reflexive initiation of an already completed intention. If the completed intention is not performed in its entirety (i.e., no commission error), the reflexive initiation of the completed intention is followed by a subsequent movement correction that most likely represents a time-consuming response-verification process. Regarding performance costs in the ongoing task, our analyses suggest that actively pursuing a PM intention most likely leads to a strategic delay of ongoing activities. Lastly, we found that pursuing a novel PM task after intention completion exacerbated orienting responses to all deviant stimuli, exacerbated the readiness to initiate the completed intention reflexively, and substantially prolonged the response-verification process following this reflexive intention retrieval.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1590-1613
Number of pages24
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number7
Early online date25 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2022

External IDs

Scopus 85125236883
WOS 000761834900001
Mendeley 8a35ede0-e52f-3fc1-958f-74ee1fd6edd9
unpaywall 10.3758/s13421-022-01289-z
PubMed 35212979
ORCID /0000-0002-4408-6016/work/142234386
ORCID /0000-0002-4823-3474/work/142247437


Subject groups, research areas, subject areas according to Destatis


  • Commission errors, Costs, Delay theory, Intention deactivation, Monitoring, Mouse tracking, Prospective memory, Spontaneous retrieval