Common Recruitment of Angular Gyrus in Episodic Autobiographical Memory and Bodily Self-Consciousness.
ABSTRACT: Parietal cortex and adjacent parts of the temporal cortex have recently been associated with bodily self-consciousness (BSC). Similarly, growing evidence suggests that the lateral parietal cortex is crucial for the subjective aspects of episodic autobiographical memory (EAM), which is based on the conscious experience of reliving past events. However, the neuroanatomical relationship between both fundamental aspects remains currently unexplored. Moreover, despite the wealth of neuroimaging data on EAM, only few neuroimaging studies have examined BSC and even fewer examined those aspects of BSC that are most closely related to EAM. Here, we investigated whether regions in the inferior parietal lobule (IPL) that have been involved in spatial aspects of BSC (self-location and first-person perspective), as described by Ionta et al. (2011) are also active in studies investigating autobiographical memory. To examine this relation, we thus compared the regions indicated in the study by Ionta et al. (2011) based on data in healthy participants and neurological patients, with the results from a meta-analytical study we performed based on functional neuroimaging studies on EAM and semantic autobiographical memory (SAM). We report an anatomical overlap bilaterally in the angular gyrus (AG), but not in other parietal or temporal lobe structures between BSC and EAM. Moreover, there was no overlap between BSC and SAM. These preliminary data suggest that the bilateral AG may be a key structure for the conscious re-experiencing of past life episodes (EAM) and the conscious on-line experience of being located and experiencing the world in first-person (BSC).
Project description:Autobiographical memory (AM) underlies the formation and temporal continuity over time of personal identity. The few studies on sex-related differences in AM suggest that men and women adopt different cognitive or emotional strategies when retrieving AMs. However, none of the previous works has taken into account the distinction between episodic autobiographical memory (EAM), consisting in the retrieval of specific events by means of mental time travel, and semantic autobiographical memory (SAM), which stores general personal events. Thus, it remains unclear whether differences in these strategies depend on the nature of the memory content to be retrieved. In the present study we employed functional MRI to examine brain activity underlying potential sex differences in EAM and SAM retrieval focusing on the differences in strategies related to the emotional aspects of memories while controlling for basic cognitive strategies. On the behavioral level, there was no significant sex difference in memory performances or subjective feature ratings of either type of AM. Activations common to men and women during AM retrieval were observed in a typical bilateral network comprising medial and lateral temporal regions, precuneus, occipital cortex as well as prefrontal cortex. Contrast analyses revealed that there was no difference between men and women in the EAM condition. In the SAM condition, women showed an increased activity, compared to men, in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, inferior parietal and precentral gyrus. Overall, these findings suggest that differential neural activations reflect sex-specific strategies related to emotional aspects of AMs, particularly regarding SAM. We propose that this pattern of activation during SAM retrieval reflects the cognitive cost linked to emotion regulation strategies recruited by women compared to men. These sex-related differences have interesting implications for understanding psychiatric disorders with differential sex prevalence and in which one of key features is overgenerality in AM.
Project description:The self has been the topic of philosophical inquiry for centuries. Neuropsychological data suggest that the declarative self can be fractionated into three functionally independent systems processing personal information at several levels of abstraction, including episodic memories of one's own life (episodic autobiographical memory, EAM), semantic knowledge of facts about one's own life (semantic autobiographical memory, SAM), and semantic summary representations of one's personal identity (conceptual self, CS). Our proposal here was to present a comprehensive description of the neural networks underpinning self-representations. To this aim, we performed three meta-analyses, one each for EAM, SAM, and CS, using the activation likelihood estimation (ALE) method. We expected a shift from posterior to anterior structures associated with the incrementally increasing level of abstraction of self-representations. The key finding was that EAM predominantly activates posterior and limbic regions including hippocampus. SAM is associated with anterior activations and also posterior and limbic activations in a lesser degree than EAM. CS mainly recruits medial prefrontal structures. Interestingly, medial prefrontal cortex is activated irrespective of the level of abstraction, but a more caudal part is recruited during CS, while SAM and EAM activate more rostral portions. To conclude, in line with the previous proposals, our results corroborate the idea that the declarative self is not monolithic but a multidimensional construct comprising distinct representations at different levels of abstraction.
Project description:Considerable recent evidence indicates that angular gyrus dysfunction in humans does not result in amnesia, but does impair a number of aspects of episodic memory. Patients with parietal lobe lesions have been reported to exhibit a deficit when freely recalling autobiographical events from their pasts, but can remember details of the events when recall is cued by specific questions. In apparent contradiction, inhibitory brain stimulation targeting angular gyrus in healthy volunteers has been found to have no effect on free recall or cued recall of word pairs. The present study sought to resolve this inconsistency by testing free and cued recall of both autobiographical memories and word-pair memories in the same healthy male and female human participants following continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) of angular gyrus and a vertex control location. Angular gyrus cTBS resulted in a selective reduction in the free recall, but not cued recall, of autobiographical memories, whereas free and cued recall of word-pair memories were unaffected. Additionally, participants reported fewer autobiographical episodes as being experienced from a first-person perspective following angular gyrus cTBS. The findings add to a growing body of evidence that a function of angular gyrus within the network of brain regions responsible for episodic recollection is to integrate memory features within an egocentric framework into the kind of first-person perspective representation that enables the subjective experience of remembering events from our personal pasts.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In seeking to understand the role played by the angular gyrus region of parietal cortex in human memory, interpreting the often conflicting findings from neuroimaging and neuropsychology studies has been hampered by differences in anatomical specificity and localization between methods. In the present study, we address these limitations using continuous theta burst stimulation in healthy volunteers to disrupt function of angular gyrus and a vertex control region. With this method, we adjudicate between two competing theories of parietal lobe function, finding evidence that is inconsistent with an attentional role for angular gyrus in memory, supporting instead an account in terms of integrating memory features within an egocentric framework into a first-person perspective representation that enables the subjective experience of remembering.
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:Functional neuroimaging evidence suggests that there are differences in the neural correlates of episodic memory for laboratory stimuli (laboratory memory) and for events from one's own life (autobiographical memory). However, this evidence is scarce and often confounded with differences in memory testing procedures. Here, we directly compared the neural mechanisms underlying the search and recovery of autobiographical and laboratory memories while minimizing testing differences. Before scanning, participants completed a laboratory memory encoding task in which they studied four-word "chains" spread across three word pairs. During scanning, participants completed a laboratory memory retrieval task, in which they recalled the word chains, and an autobiographical memory retrieval task, in which they recalled specific personal events associated with word cues. Importantly, response times were similar in the two tasks, allowing for a direct comparison of the activation time courses. We found that during memory search (searching for the memory target), similar brain regions were activated during both the autobiographical and laboratory tasks, whereas during memory recovery (accessing the memory traces; i.e., ecphory), clear differences emerged: regions of the default mode network (DMN) were activated greater during autobiographical than laboratory memory, whereas the bilateral superior parietal lobules were activated greater during laboratory than autobiographical memory. Also, multivariate functional connectivity analyses revealed that regardless of memory stage, the DMN and ventral attention network exhibited a more integrated topology in the functional network underlying autobiographical (vs. laboratory) memory retrieval, whereas the fronto-parietal task control network exhibited a more integrated topology in the functional network underlying laboratory (vs. autobiographical) memory retrieval. These findings further characterize the shared and distinct neural components underlying autobiographical and laboratory memories, and suggest that differences in autobiographical vs. laboratory memory brain activation previously reported in the literature reflect memory recovery rather than search differences.
Project description:Deficits in autobiographical memory appear earlier for recent than for remote life periods over the course of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The present study aims to further our understanding of this graded effect by investigating the cognitive and neural substrates of recent versus remote autobiographical memories in patients with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) thanks to an autobiographical fluency task. 20 aMCI patients and 25 Healthy elderly Controls (HC) underwent neuropsychological tests assessing remote (20-to-30 years old) and recent (the ten last years) autobiographical memory as well as episodic and semantic memory, executive function and global cognition. All patients also had a structural MRI and an FDG-PET scan. Correlations were assessed between each autobiographical memory score and the other tests as well as grey matter volume and metabolism. Within the aMCI, performances for the remote period correlated with personal semantic memory and episodic memory retrieval whereas performances for the recent period only correlated with episodic memory retrieval. Neuroimaging analyses revealed significant correlations between performances for the remote period and temporal pole and temporo-parietal cortex volumes and anterior cingulate gyrus metabolism, while performances for the recent period correlated with hippocampal volume and posterior cingulate, medial prefrontal and hippocampus metabolism. The brain regions related with the retrieval of events from the recent period showed greater atrophy/hypometabolism in aMCI patients compared to HC than those involved in remote memories. Recall of recent memories essentially relies on episodic memory processes and brain network while remote memories also involve other processes such as semantic memory. This is consistent with the semanticization of memories with time and may explain the better resistance of remote memory in AD.
Project description:Cognitive and neuroimaging evidence suggests that episodic and semantic memory-memory for autobiographical events and conceptual knowledge, respectively-support different aspects of creative thinking, with a growing number of studies reporting activation of brain regions within the default network during performance on creative thinking tasks. The present research sought to dissociate neural contributions of these memory processes by inducing episodic or semantic retrieval orientations prior to performance on a divergent thinking task during fMRI. We conducted a representational similarity analysis (RSA) to identify multivoxel patterns of neural activity that were similar across induction (episodic and semantic) and idea generation. At the behavioral level, we found that semantic induction was associated with increased idea originality, assessed via computational estimates of semantic distance between concepts. RSA revealed that multivoxel patterns during semantic induction and subsequent idea generation were more similar (compared to episodic induction) within the left angular gyrus (AG), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and left anterior inferior parietal lobe (IPL). Conversely, activity patterns during episodic induction and subsequent generation were more similar within left parahippocampal gyrus and right anterior IPL. Together, the findings point to dissociable contributions of episodic and semantic memory processes to creative cognition and suggest that distinct regions within the default network support specific memory-related processes during divergent thinking.
Project description:Previous neuroimaging studies that have examined autobiographical memory specificity have utilized retrieval cues associated with prior searches of the event, potentially changing the retrieval processes being investigated. In the current study, musical cues were used to naturally elicit memories from multiple levels of specificity (i.e., lifetime period, general event, and event-specific). Sixteen young adults participated in a neuroimaging study in which they retrieved autobiographical memories associated with musical cues. These musical cues led to the retrieval of highly emotional memories that had low levels of prior retrieval. Retrieval of all autobiographical memory levels was associated with activity in regions in the autobiographical memory network, specifically the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, and right medial temporal lobe. Owing to the use of music, memories from varying levels of specificity were retrieved, allowing for comparison of event memory and abstract personal knowledge, as well as comparison of specific and general event memory. Dorsolateral and dorsomedial prefrontal regions were engaged during event retrieval relative to personal knowledge retrieval, and retrieval of specific event memories was associated with increased activity in the bilateral medial temporal lobe and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex relative to retrieval of general event memories. These results suggest that the initial search processes for memories of different specificity levels preferentially engage different components of the autobiographical memory network. The potential underlying causes of these neural differences are discussed.
Project description:Time is usually conceived of in terms of space: many natural languages refer to time according to a back-to-front axis. Indeed, whereas the past is usually conceived to be "behind us", the future is considered to be "in front of us." Despite temporal coding is pivotal for the development of autonoetic consciousness, little is known about the organization of autobiographical memories along this axis. Here we developed a spatial compatibility task (SCT) to test the organization of autobiographical memories along the sagittal plane, using spatiotemporal interference. Twenty-one participants were asked to recall both episodic and semantic autobiographical memories (EAM and SAM, respectively) to be used in the SCT. Then, during the SCT, they were asked to decide whether each event occurred before or after the event presented right before, using a response code that could be compatible with the back-to-front axis (future in front) or not (future at back). We found that performance was significantly worse during the non-compatible condition, especially for EAM. The results are discussed in light of the evidence for spatiotemporal encoding of episodic autobiographical memories, taking into account possible mechanisms explaining compatibility effects.
Project description:Preferred music is a highly emotional and salient stimulus, which has previously been shown to increase the probability of auditory cognitive event-related responses in patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC). To further investigate whether and how music modifies the functional connectivity of the brain in DOC, five patients were assessed with both a classical functional connectivity scan (control condition), and a scan while they were exposed to their preferred music (music condition). Seed-based functional connectivity (left or right primary auditory cortex), and mean network connectivity of three networks linked to conscious sound perception were assessed. The auditory network showed stronger functional connectivity with the left precentral gyrus and the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during music as compared to the control condition. Furthermore, functional connectivity of the external network was enhanced during the music condition in the temporo-parietal junction. Although caution should be taken due to small sample size, these results suggest that preferred music exposure might have effects on patients auditory network (implied in rhythm and music perception) and on cerebral regions linked to autobiographical memory.