Separable Brain Systems Supporting Cued Versus Self-Initiated Realization of Delayed Intentions

Sam J. Gilbert, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Anna Lisa Cohen, Gabriele Oettingen, Paul W. Burgess

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In everyday life, one can link anticipated specific cues (e.g. visiting a restaurant) with desired actions (e.g., ordering a healthy meal). Alternatively, intentions such as "I intend to eat more healthily" present the option to act when one encounters the same cue. In the first case, a specific cue triggers a specific action; in the second, one must act in a more self-initiated manner. The authors compared such scenarios using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants were either instructed to respond in a particular manner to target events (cued condition) or told that they would score points for such responses, without being told that they were necessary (self-initiated condition). Although conditions differed only in the wording of instructions, the self-initiated condition was associated with poorer performance and greater activity in a predominantly frontoparietal network. Responses to targets in the self-initiated and cued conditions yielded greater activity in lateral and medial Brodmann area 10, respectively. The authors suggest that these results reflect differing demands for self-initiated versus externally cued behavior following different types of instruction, in line with the distinction between goal intentions and implementation intentions proposed by P. M. Gollwitzer and colleagues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-915
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • fMRI
  • implementation intentions
  • prefrontal cortex
  • prospective memory
  • self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'Separable Brain Systems Supporting Cued Versus Self-Initiated Realization of Delayed Intentions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this