Recollection and the reinstatement of encoding-related cortical activity


The neural correlates of episodic memory retrieval (recollection'') differ according to the type of information contained in the recollected episode. Such content-specific recollection effects have been hypothesized to reflect the reinstatement of processes or representations active during encoding. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we evaluated this hypothesis by directly contrasting the neural activity elicited during the encoding and subsequent recollection of words studied with one of 2 encoding tasks. Study words appearing on pictures of scenes required imagining the word's referent at any location within the scene, whereas words appearing on a blank background required generating a sentence that incorporated the word. On a later memory test, the neural correlates of recollection were operationalized by contrasting the activity elicited during correctremember” versus know'' responses. Recollected words from thescene” task elicited activity in regions of left occipital cortex and anterior fusiform gyrus that overlapped regions where encoding-related activity was greater for the scene than sentence task. Conversely, activity elicited by words recollected from the ``sentence” task overlapped with a region of ventromedial frontal cortex where encoding-related activity was greater for the sentence task. These content-specific associations between encoding- and recollection-related neural activity strongly support the reinstatement hypothesis of episodic retrieval.

Cerebral Cortex, 17(11), 2507–2515