Specifying a Causal Role for Angular Gyrus in Autobiographical Memory.
ABSTRACT: 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:Studies examining age effects in autobiographical memory have produced inconsistent results. This study examined whether a set of typical autobiographical memory measures produced equivalent results in a single participant sample. Five memory tests (everyday memory, autobiographical memory from the past year, autobiographical memory from age 11–17, word-cued autobiographical memory, and word-list recall) were administered in a single sample of young and older adults. There was significant variance in the tests’ sensitivity to age: word-cued autobiographical memory produced the largest deficit in older adults, similar in magnitude to word-list recall. In contrast, older adults performed comparatively well on the other measures. The pattern of findings was broadly consistent with the results of previous investigations, suggesting that (1) the results of the different AM tasks are reliable, and (2) variable age effects in the autobiographical memory literature are at least partly due to the use of different tasks, which cannot be considered interchangeable measures of autobiographical memory ability. The results are also consistent with recent work dissociating measures of specificity and detail in autobiographical memory, and suggest that specificity is particularly sensitive to ageing. In contrast, detail is less sensitive to ageing, but is influenced by retention interval and event type. The extent to which retention interval and event type interact with age remains unclear; further research using specially designed autobiographical memory tasks could resolve this issue.
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:BACKGROUND:Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by biases in memory, attention, and cognition. The present study utilized the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) to examine the content of specific autobiographical memories (AMs) recalled by individuals with MDD during an autobiographical memory task. METHODS:We examined various features of the text (including use of affective, cognitive, and self-referential terms), as well as their associations with clinical and cognitive features of MDD (depression severity, autobiographical memory specificity, amygdala activity), in 45 unmedicated adults with MDD compared to 61 healthy controls. RESULTS:When recalling positive memories MDD individuals used the word "I" less, fewer positive words, more words indicating present focus (present tense verbs), and fewer words overall to describe memories compared to controls. When recalling negative memories, MDD individuals used "I" more, more words indicating present focus, and more words overall to describe memories relative to controls. Depression severity was correlated with word count, the use of "I", and words indicating present focus in negative memories and inversely correlated with word count and the use of "I" in positive memories. Autobiographical memory specificity was correlated with word count, the use of "I", and words indicating present focus for positive memories and inversely correlated with the use of "I" and words indicating present focus for negative memories. LIMITATIONS:Due to the nature of AM recall, we could not control for the number of memories which participants recalled in each mnemonic category. CONCLUSIONS:Results align with literature implicating rumination and intensive self-focus in depression and suggest that interventions targeting specific word use may be therapeutically beneficial in the treatment of MDD.
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:Emotional information is typically better remembered than neutral content, and previous studies suggest that this effect is subserved particularly by the amygdala together with its interactions with the hippocampus. However, it is not known whether amygdala damage affects emotional memory performance at immediate and delayed recall, and whether its involvement is modulated by stimulus valence. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent more distributed neocortical regions involved in e.g., autobiographical memory, also contribute to emotional processing. We investigated these questions in a group of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), which affects the amygdala, hippocampus and neocortical regions. Healthy controls (n = 14), patients with AD (n = 15) and its putative prodrome amnestic mild cognitive impairment (n = 11) completed a memory task consisting of immediate and delayed free recall of a list of positive, negative and neutral words. Memory performance was related to brain integrity in region of interest and whole-brain voxel-based morphometry analyses. In the brain-behavioral analyses, the left amygdala volume predicted the immediate recall of both positive and negative material, whereas at delay, left and right amygdala volumes were associated with performance with positive and negative words, respectively. Whole-brain analyses revealed additional associations between left angular gyrus integrity and the immediate recall of positive words as well as between the orbitofrontal cortex and the delayed recall of negative words. These results indicate that emotional memory impairments in AD may be underpinned by damage to regions implicated in emotional processing as well as frontoparietal regions, which may exert their influence via autobiographical memories and organizational strategies.
Project description:The story of our lifetime - our narrative self - is constructed from our autobiographical memories. A central claim of social psychology is that this narrative self is inherently social: When we construct our lives, we do so in a real or imagined interaction. This predicts that self-referential processes which are involved in recall of autobiographical memories overlap with processes involved in social interactions. Indeed, previous functional MRI studies indicate that regions in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are activated during autobiographical memory recall and virtual communication. However, no fMRI study has investigated recall of autobiographical memories in a real-life interaction. We developed a novel paradigm in which participants overtly reported self-related and other-related memories to an experimenter, whose non-verbal reactions were being filmed and online displayed to the participants in the scanner. We found that recall of autobiographical vs. non-autobiographical memories was associated with activation of the mPFC, as was recall in the social as compared to a non-social control condition; however, both contrasts involved different non-overlapping regions within the mPFC. These results indicate that self-referential processes involved in autobiographical memory recall are different from processes supporting social interactions, and argue against the hypothesis that autobiographical memories are inherently social.
Project description:The necessity of the human hippocampus for remote autobiographical recall remains fiercely debated. The standard model of consolidation predicts a time-limited role for the hippocampus, but the competing multiple trace/trace transformation theories posit indefinite involvement. Lesion evidence remains inconclusive, and the inferences one can draw from functional MRI (fMRI) have been limited by reliance on covert (silent) recall, which obscures dynamic, moment-to-moment content of retrieved memories. Here, we capitalized on advances in fMRI denoising to employ overtly spoken recall. Forty participants retrieved recent and remote memories, describing each for approximately 2 min. Details associated with each memory were identified and modeled in the fMRI time-series data using a variant of the Autobiographical Interview procedure, and activity associated with the recall of recent and remote memories was then compared. Posterior hippocampal regions exhibited temporally graded activity patterns (recent events > remote events), as did several regions of frontal and parietal cortex. Consistent with predictions of the standard model, recall-related hippocampal activity differed from a non-autobiographical control task only for recent, and not remote, events. Task-based connectivity between posterior hippocampal regions and others associated with mental scene construction also exhibited a temporal gradient, with greater connectivity accompanying the recall of recent events. These findings support predictions of the standard model of consolidation and demonstrate the potential benefits of overt recall in neuroimaging experiments.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Ruminative (abstract verbal) processing during recall of aversive autobiographical memories may serve to dampen their short-term affective impact. Experimental studies indeed demonstrate that verbal processing of non-autobiographical material and positive autobiographical memories evokes weaker affective responses than imagery-based processing. In the current study, we hypothesized that abstract verbal or concrete verbal processing of an aversive autobiographical memory would result in weaker affective responses than imagery-based processing.<h4>Methods</h4>The affective impact of abstract verbal versus concrete verbal versus imagery-based processing during recall of an aversive autobiographical memory was investigated in a non-clinical sample (<i>n</i>?=?99) using both an observational and an experimental design. Observationally, it was examined whether spontaneous use of processing modes (both state and trait measures) was associated with impact of aversive autobiographical memory recall on negative and positive affect. Experimentally, the causal relation between processing modes and affective impact was investigated by manipulating the processing mode during retrieval of the same aversive autobiographical memory.<h4>Results</h4>Main findings were that higher levels of trait (but not state) measures of both ruminative and imagery-based processing and depressive symptomatology were positively correlated with higher levels of negative affective impact in the observational part of the study. In the experimental part, no main effect of processing modes on affective impact of autobiographical memories was found. However, a significant moderating effect of depressive symptomatology was found. Only for individuals with low levels of depressive symptomatology, concrete verbal (but not abstract verbal) processing of the aversive autobiographical memory did result in weaker affective responses, compared to imagery-based processing.<h4>Discussion</h4>These results cast doubt on the hypothesis that ruminative processing of aversive autobiographical memories serves to avoid the negative emotions evoked by such memories. Furthermore, findings suggest that depressive symptomatology is associated with the spontaneous use and the affective impact of processing modes during recall of aversive autobiographical memories. Clinical studies are needed that examine the role of processing modes during aversive autobiographical memory recall in depression, including the potential effectiveness of targeting processing modes in therapy.
Project description:Specific odors can induce memories of the past, especially those associated with autobiographical and episodic memory. Odors associated with autobiographical memories have been found to elicit stronger activation in the orbitofrontal cortex, hippocampus, and parahippocampus compared with odors not linked to personal memories. Here, we examined whether continuous odor stimuli associated with autobiographical memories could activate the above olfactory areas in older adults and speculated regarding whether this odor stimulation could have a protective effect against age-related cognitive decline. Specifically, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the relationship between blood oxygen levels in olfactory regions and odor-induced subjective memory retrieval and emotions associated with autobiographical memory in older adults. In our group of healthy older adults, the tested odors induced autobiographical memories that were accompanied by increasing levels of retrieval and the feeling of being "brought back in time." The strength of the subjective feelings, including vividness of the memory and degree of comfort, impacted activation of the left fusiform gyrus and left posterior orbitofrontal cortex. Further, our path model suggested that the strength of memory retrieval and of the emotions induced by odor-evoked autobiographical memories directly influenced neural changes in the left fusiform gyrus, and impacted left posterior orbitofrontal cortex activation through the left fusiform response.