Prospective memory is memory of future intentions or plans in everyday life. Although some previous neuropsychological studies have stated that the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal lobe are essential for successful prospective remembering, how the two regions contribute to prospective remembering remains unclear. We therefore used prospective memory training in the present study to investigate the neural mechanism of two components of prospective remembering: remembering to remember and remembering content. Two brain-damaged patients participated in this study: patient Y.O., who had lesions in the medial temporal lobe bilaterally, and patient T.K., who had a lesion in the basal forebrain and right medial frontal lobe. Both participants exhibited a severe antero-grade amnesic syndrome and had normal IQ scores. Before the prospective memory training the participants underwent several index memory tests to examine their general memory and prospective memory performance. The training consisted of requesting the participants to perform an original mini-day task, in which they were first asked to memorize five simple daily actions with their times for execution, and then to recall the content of the actions when shown a drawing of a clock showing the proper time for execution. A training session was carried out once a week for 3 months. After completing training, the participants were again requested to take the same index memory tests. The results of the training task showed that Y.O.'s memory performance had gradually improved across all sessions of training, but T.K.'s improvement was not as marked. A more detailed analysis revealed that Y.O.'s memory performance was better for recalling time than for recalling content, whereas T.K.'s memory performance was better for recalling content than for recalling time. Furthermore, the results of the final index memory tests showed that the only improvement in Y.O.'s prospective memory was in remembering to remember, and that the only improvement in T.K.'s prospective memory was in remembering content. These results provide strong evidence that these two remembering components of prospective memory have independent neural bases, with the basal forebrain and right medial frontal lobe being required for remembering to remember, and the medial temporal lobe being required for remembering content. The results also suggest that memory training is an effective, means of improving everyday memory.
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