Memory & Cognition

, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 923–935 | Cite as

Response dynamics of event-based prospective memory retrieval in mouse tracking

  • Jason L. HicksEmail author
  • Samantha N. Spitler
  • Megan H. Papesh


Prospective memory (PM) is typically measured using keypresses in laboratory paradigms, which therefore assess only discrete, stage-like processes. In the present study we manipulated focal and nonfocal PM cue conditions, as well as participants’ focus on different aspects of the PM/ongoing task set, using the methodology to capture dynamic computer mouse movements. The software captured mouse trajectories during lexical decisions and PM responses. We replicated many findings typical in the PM literature, including the accuracy advantage for focal over nonfocal conditions and longer ongoing-task response times for nonfocal conditions. Participants’ movement trajectories during PM responses revealed evidence for both spontaneous-retrieval and strategic-monitoring processes in focal and nonfocal PM retrieval conditions. During trials suggestive of spontaneous retrieval, mouse trajectories initially went toward the typical ongoing-task response but turned mid-trajectory toward the PM response field on the opposite side of the computer screen. In nonfocal conditions, these trajectory reversals had a wider arc and took longer to complete, reflecting the likely greater retrospective retrieval requirements of nonfocal conditions. Regarding what are more likely to be strategic-monitoring processes, a significant portion of responses traveled directly to the PM response field, as though people were prepared to make such a response.


Prospective memory Retrieval dynamics Mouse tracking Attentional monitoring Spontaneous retrieval 


Supplementary material

13421_2019_909_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason L. Hicks
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samantha N. Spitler
    • 1
  • Megan H. Papesh
    • 1
  1. 1.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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