Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





132 - 146


attention, decision-making, episodic memory, hippocampus, implicit memory, memory, prefrontal cortex, priming, working memory