ERP evidence for successful voluntary avoidance of conscious recollection

Bergström, Zara M.; Velmans, Max; De Fockert, J. W. and Richardson-Klavehn, Alan. 2007. ERP evidence for successful voluntary avoidance of conscious recollection. Brain Research, 1151, pp. 119-133. ISSN 0006-8993 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

We investigated neurocognitive processes of voluntarily avoiding conscious recollection by asking participants to either attempt to recollect (the Think condition) or to avoid recollecting (the No-Think condition) a previously exposed paired associate. Event-related potentials (ERPs) during Think and No-Think trials were separated on the basis of previous learning success versus failure. This separation yielded temporal and topographic dissociations between early ERP effects of a Think versus No-Think strategy, which were maximal between 200 and 300 ms after stimulus presentation and independent of learning status, and a later learning-specific ERP effect maximal between 500 and 800 ms after stimulus presentation. In this later time-window, Learned Think items elicited a larger late left parietal positivity than did Not Learned Think, Learned No-Think, and Not Learned No-Think items; moreover, Learned No-Think and Not Learned Think items did not differ in late left parietal positivity. Because the late left parietal positivity indexes conscious recollection, the results provide firm evidence that conscious recollection of recollectable information can be voluntarily avoided on an item-specific basis and help to clarify previous neural evidence from the Think/No-Think procedure, which could not separate item-specific from strategic processes.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):

Additional Information:

This research was supported by a 1+3 Ph.D. studentship from the Economic and Social Research Council UK (Z. B.; principal supervisor, A. R.-K.), by a grant from the Goldsmiths College Research Fund (Z. B.), and by an International Leibniz Research Fellowship from the Federal State of Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany (A. R.-K.).


ERP, Memory, Think/No-Think, Strategic control, Recollection, Left parietal old–new effect

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



6 March 2007Accepted
12 March 2007Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Dec 2008 10:36

Last Modified:

03 Apr 2019 16:03

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)