From prospection to prospective memory: Constructing, encoding, and remembering future plans
Recent studies have documented cognitive and neural processes related to human abilities for prospection and prospective memory. In this review article, I discuss functional neuroimaging findings on these two inter-related neurocognitive processes in humans, which are both thought to develop in relation to episodic memory. Prospection is the ability to construct ideas about possible future events, whereas prospective memory involves the formation and encoding of personal behavioural plans that are then maintained and retrieved at a planned time (or condition) during other ongoing activities. A growing body of neuroimaging studies investigating human prospection has consistently identified a core brain network consisting of medial regions of the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes. The medial prefrontal cortex has also been identified to play a significant role for executive processes in prospective memory. Further investigations will be needed to disambiguate the contributions of the medial temporal lobe in constructing, encoding, and remembering future plans.