Recollection, familiarity, and content-sensitivity in lateral parietal cortex: A high-resolution fMRI study


Numerous studies have identified brain regions where activity is consistently correlated with the retrieval (recollection) of qualitative episodic information. This ‘core recollection network’ can be contrasted with regions where activity differs according to the contents of retrieval. The present study used high-resolution fMRI to investigate whether these putatively-distinct retrieval processes engage common versus dissociable regions. Subjects studied words with two encoding tasks and then performed a memory test in which they distinguished between recollection and different levels of recognition confidence. The fMRI data from study and test revealed several overlapping regions where activity differed according to encoding task, suggesting that content was selectively reinstated during retrieval. The majority of recollection-related regions, though, did not exhibit reinstatement effects, providing support for a core recollection network. Importantly, lateral parietal cortex demonstrated a clear dissociation, whereby recollection effects were localized to angular gyrus and confidence effects were restricted to intraparietal sulcus. Moreover, the latter region exhibited a non-monotonic pattern, consistent with a neural signal reflecting item familiarity rather than a generic form of memory strength. Together, the findings show that episodic retrieval relies on both content-sensitive and core recollective processes, and these can be differentiated from familiarity-based recognition memory.

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 219