Memories are about the past, but they serve the future. Memory research often emphasizes the former aspect: focusing on the functions that re-constitute (re-member) experience and elucidating the various types of memories and their interrelations, timescales, and neural bases. Here we highlight the prospective nature of memory in guiding selective attention, focusing on functions that use previous experience to anticipate the relevant events about to unfold-to "premember" experience. Memories of various types and timescales play a fundamental role in guiding perception and performance adaptively, proactively, and dynamically. Consonant with this perspective, memories are often recorded according to expected future demands. Using working memory as an example, we consider how mnemonic content is selected and represented for future use. This perspective moves away from the traditional representational account of memory toward a functional account in which forward-looking memory traces are informationally and computationally tuned for interacting with incoming sensory signals to guide adaptive behavior.
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attention, decision-making, episodic memory, hippocampus, implicit memory, memory, prefrontal cortex, priming, working memory