Episodic retrieval involves early and sustained effects of reactivating information from encoding


Several fMRI studies have shown a correspondence between the brain regions activated during encoding and retrieval, consistent with the view that memory retrieval involves hippocampally-mediated reinstatement of cortical activity. With the limited temporal resolution of fMRI, the precise timing of such reactivation is unclear, calling into question the functional significance of these effects. Whereas reactivation influencing retrieval should emerge with neural correlates of retrieval success, that signifying post-retrieval monitoring would trail retrieval. The present study employed EEG to provide a temporal landmark of retrieval success from which we could investigate the sub-trial time course of reactivation. Pattern-classification analyses revealed that early-onsetting reactivation differentiated the outcome of recognition-memory judgments and was associated with individual differences in behavioral accuracy, while reactivation was also evident in a sustained form later in the trial. The EEG findings suggest that, whereas prior fMRI findings could be interpreted as reflecting the contribution of reinstatement to retrieval success, they could also indicate the maintenance of episodic information in service of post-retrieval evaluation.

Neuroimage, 106, 300–310