Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Working memory enables us to retain past sensations in service of anticipated task demands. How we prepare for anticipated task demands during working memory retention remains poorly understood. Here, we focused on the role of time—asking how temporal expectations help prepare for ensuing memory-guided behavior. We manipulated the expected probe time in a delayed change-detection task and report that temporal expectation can have a profound influence on memory-guided behavioral performance. EEG measurements corroborated the utilization of temporal expectations: demonstrating the involvement of a classic EEG signature of temporal expectation—the contingent negative variation—in the context of working memory. We also report the influence of temporal expectations on 2 EEG signatures associated with visual working memory—the lateralization of 8- to 12-Hz alpha activity, and the contralateral delay activity. We observed a dissociation between these signatures, whereby alpha lateralization (but not the contralateral delay activity) adapted to the time of expected memory utilization. These data show how temporal expectations prepare visual working memory for behavior and shed new light on the electrophysiological markers of both temporal expectation and working memory.