How We Transmit Memories to Other Brains: Constructing Shared Neural Representations Via Communication.
ABSTRACT: Humans are able to mentally construct an episode when listening to another person's recollection, even though they themselves did not experience the events. However, it is unknown how strongly the neural patterns elicited by mental construction resemble those found in the brain of the individual who experienced the original events. Using fMRI and a verbal communication task, we traced how neural patterns associated with viewing specific scenes in a movie are encoded, recalled, and then transferred to a group of naïve listeners. By comparing neural patterns across the 3 conditions, we report, for the first time, that event-specific neural patterns observed in the default mode network are shared across the encoding, recall, and construction of the same real-life episode. This study uncovers the intimate correspondences between memory encoding and event construction, and highlights the essential role our common language plays in the process of transmitting one's memories to other brains.
Project description:Episodic memory retrieval is thought to involve reinstatement of the neurocognitive processes engaged when an episode was encoded. Prior fMRI studies and computational models have suggested that reinstatement is limited to instances in which specific episodic details are recollected. We used multivoxel pattern-classification analyses of fMRI data to investigate how reinstatement is associated with different memory judgments, particularly those accompanied by recollection versus a feeling of familiarity (when recollection is absent). Classifiers were trained to distinguish between brain activity patterns associated with different encoding tasks and were subsequently applied to recognition-related fMRI data to determine the degree to which patterns were reinstated. Reinstatement was evident during both recollection- and familiarity-based judgments, providing clear evidence that reinstatement is not sufficient for eliciting a recollective experience. The findings are interpreted as support for a continuous, recollection-related neural signal that has been central to recent debate over the nature of recognition memory processes.
Project description:Autobiographical remembering can depend on two forms of memory: episodic (event) memory and autobiographical semantic memory (remembering personally relevant semantic knowledge, independent of recalling a specific experience). There is debate about the degree to which the neural signals that support episodic recollection relate to or build upon autobiographical semantic remembering. Pooling data from two fMRI studies of memory for real-world personal events, we investigated whether medial temporal lobe (MTL) and parietal subregions contribute to autobiographical episodic and semantic remembering. During scanning, participants made memory judgments about photograph sequences depicting past events from their life or from others' lives, and indicated whether memory was based on episodic or semantic knowledge. Results revealed several distinct functional patterns: activity in most MTL subregions was selectively associated with autobiographical episodic memory; the hippocampal tail, superior parietal lobule, and intraparietal sulcus were similarly engaged when memory was based on retrieval of an autobiographical episode or autobiographical semantic knowledge; and angular gyrus demonstrated a graded pattern, with activity declining from autobiographical recollection to autobiographical semantic remembering to correct rejections of novel events. Collectively, our data offer insights into MTL and parietal cortex functional organization, and elucidate circuitry that supports different forms of real-world autobiographical memory.
Project description:Neural evidence for the strategic retrieval of task-relevant 'target' memories at the expense of less relevant 'nontarget' memories has been demonstrated across a wide variety of studies. In ERP studies, this evidence consists of the ERP correlate of recollection (i.e. the 'left parietal old/new effect') being evident for targets and attenuated for nontargets. It is not yet known, however, whether this degree of strategic control can be extended to emotionally valenced words, or whether these items instead reactivate associated memories. The present study used a paradigm previously employed to demonstrate the strategic retrieval of neutral words (Herron & Rugg, Psychonomic Bulletin and & Review, 10(3), 703--710, 2003b) to assess the effects of stimulus valence on behavioural and event-related potential (ERP) measures of strategic retrieval. While response accuracy and reaction times associated with targets were unaffected by valence, negative nontargets and new items were both associated with an elevated false alarm rate and longer RTs than their neutral equivalents. Both neutral and negative targets and nontargets elicited early old/new effects between 300 and 500 ms. Critically, whereas neutral and negative targets elicited robust and statistically equivalent left parietal old/new effects between 500 and 800 ms, these were absent for neutral and negative nontargets. A right frontal positivity associated with postretrieval monitoring was evident for neutral targets versus nontargets, for negative versus neutral nontargets, and for targets versus new items. It can therefore be concluded that the recollection of negatively valenced words is subject to strategic control during retrieval, and that postretrieval monitoring processes are influenced by emotional valence.
Project description:Our lives revolve around sharing experiences and memories with others. When different people recount the same events, how similar are their underlying neural representations? Participants viewed a 50-min movie, then verbally described the events during functional MRI, producing unguided detailed descriptions lasting up to 40 min. As each person spoke, event-specific spatial patterns were reinstated in default-network, medial-temporal, and high-level visual areas. Individual event patterns were both highly discriminable from one another and similar among people, suggesting consistent spatial organization. In many high-order areas, patterns were more similar between people recalling the same event than between recall and perception, indicating systematic reshaping of percept into memory. These results reveal the existence of a common spatial organization for memories in high-level cortical areas, where encoded information is largely abstracted beyond sensory constraints, and that neural patterns during perception are altered systematically across people into shared memory representations for real-life events.
Project description:Recent evidence indicates that the processing of a stimulus can be influenced by preceding patterns of brain activity. Here we examine whether prestimulus oscillatory brain activity can influence the ability to retrieve episodic memories. Neural activity in the theta-frequency band (4-8 Hz) was enhanced before presentation of test items which elicited accurate recollection of contextual details of the prior study episode ("source retrieval"), relative to trials for which item recognition was successful but source retrieval failed. Poststimulus theta activity was also related to source retrieval, and the magnitude of poststimulus theta was predicted by the magnitude of the prestimulus theta effects. The results suggest that ongoing neural processes occurring before stimulus onset might play a critical role in readying the brain for successful memory retrieval.
Project description:Source memory tests typically require subjects to make decisions about the context in which an item was encoded and are thought to depend on recollection of details from the study episode. Although it is generally believed that familiarity does not contribute to source memory, recent behavioral studies have suggested that familiarity may also support source recognition when item and source information are integrated, or "unitized," during study (Diana, Yonelinas, and Ranganath, 2008). However, an alternative explanation of these behavioral findings is that unitization affects the manner in which recollection contributes to performance, rather than increasing familiarity-based source memory. To discriminate between these possibilities, we conducted an event-related potential (ERP) study testing the hypothesis that unitization increases the contribution of familiarity to source recognition. Participants studied associations between words and background colors using tasks that either encouraged or discouraged unitization. ERPs were recorded during a source memory test for background color. The results revealed two distinct neural correlates of source recognition: a frontally distributed positivity that was associated with familiarity-based source memory in the high-unitization condition only and a parietally distributed positivity that was associated with recollection-based source memory in both the high- and low-unitization conditions. The ERP and behavioral findings provide converging evidence for the idea that familiarity can contribute to source recognition, particularly when source information is encoded as an item detail.
Project description:Separate event-related brain potential (ERP) components have been hypothesized to index familiarity and recollection processes that support recognition memory. A 300- to 500-ms mid-frontal FN400 old/new difference has been related to familiarity, whereas a 500- to 800-ms parietal old/new difference has been related to recollection. Other recent work has cast doubt on the FN400 familiarity hypothesis, especially its application to familiarity-based recognition of conceptually impoverished stimuli such as novel faces. Here we show that FN400 old/new differences can be observed with novel faces, and as predicted by the familiarity hypothesis, these differences are observed regardless of whether or not recognition is accompanied by the recollection of specific details from the study episode. Furthermore, FN400 differentiation between hits and misses is more consistent with an explicit familiarity process than an implicit memory process.
Project description:fMRI was employed to assess whether the neural correlates of accurate source memory are modulated by the reward value of recollected information. Study items comprised pictures of objects, each paired with a depiction of 1 of 2 coins. The reward value of the coins ($2.00 vs. $0.02) was disclosed after study. At test, a source memory procedure was employed in which subjects discriminated between studied and unstudied objects and, for objects judged studied, indicated the identity of the coin paired with the object at study. Correct judgments earned a reward corresponding to the value of the coin, whereas incorrect judgments were penalized. No regions were identified where the magnitude of recollection effects was modulated by reward. Exclusive effects of source accuracy were evident in the hippocampus. Different striatal sub-regions demonstrated exclusive recollection effects, exclusive reward effects, and overlap between the 2 effects. The left angular gyrus and medial prefrontal cortex were additively responsive to source accuracy and the reward. The findings suggest that reward value and recollection success are conjointly but independently represented in at least 2 cortical regions and that striatal retrieval success effects cannot be accounted for in terms of a single construct, such as goal satisfaction.
Project description:Recollection - retrieval of qualitative information about a past event - is associated with enhanced neural activity in a consistent set of neural regions (the 'core recollection network') seemingly regardless of the nature of the recollected content. Here, we employed multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) to assess whether retrieval-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activity in core recollection regions - including the hippocampus, angular gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex, retrosplenial/posterior cingulate cortex, and middle temporal gyrus - contain information about studied content and thus demonstrate retrieval-related 'reinstatement' effects. During study, participants viewed objects and concrete words that were subjected to different encoding tasks. Test items included studied words, the names of studied objects, or unstudied words. Participants judged whether the items were recollected, familiar, or new by making 'remember', 'know', and 'new' responses, respectively. The study history of remembered test items could be reliably decoded using MVPA in most regions, as well as from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region where univariate recollection effects could not be detected. The findings add to evidence that members of the core recollection network, as well as at least one neural region where mean signal is insensitive to recollection success, carry information about recollected content. Importantly, the study history of recognized items endorsed with a 'know' response could be decoded with equal accuracy. The results thus demonstrate a striking dissociation between mean signal and multi-voxel indices of recollection. Moreover, they converge with prior findings in suggesting that, as it is operationalized by classification-based MVPA, reinstatement is not uniquely a signature of recollection.
Project description:The rivalry between the men's basketball teams of Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) is one of the most storied traditions in college sports. A subculture of students at each university form social bonds with fellow fans, develop expertise in college basketball rules, team statistics, and individual players, and self-identify as a member of a fan group. The present study capitalized on the high personal investment of these fans and the strong affective tenor of a Duke-UNC basketball game to examine the neural correlates of emotional memory retrieval for a complex sporting event. Male fans watched a competitive, archived game in a social setting. During a subsequent functional magnetic resonance imaging session, participants viewed video clips depicting individual plays of the game that ended with the ball being released toward the basket. For each play, participants recalled whether or not the shot went into the basket. Hemodynamic signal changes time locked to correct memory decisions were analyzed as a function of emotional intensity and valence, according to the fan's perspective. Results showed intensity-modulated retrieval activity in midline cortical structures, sensorimotor cortex, the striatum, and the medial temporal lobe, including the amygdala. Positively valent memories specifically recruited processing in dorsal frontoparietal regions, and additional activity in the insula and medial temporal lobe for positively valent shots recalled with high confidence. This novel paradigm reveals how brain regions implicated in emotion, memory retrieval, visuomotor imagery, and social cognition contribute to the recollection of specific plays in the mind of a sports fan.