Episodic autobiographical memory in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: what are the neural correlates?
ABSTRACT: Autobiographical memory in amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) is characterized by impaired retrieval of episodic memories, but relatively preserved personal semantic knowledge. This study aimed to identify (via FDG-PET) the neural substrates of impaired episodic specificity of autobiographical memories in 35 aMCI patients compared with 24 healthy elderly controls. Significant correlations between regional cerebral activity and the proportion of episodic details in autobiographical memories from two life periods were found in specific regions of an autobiographical brain network. In aMCI patients, more than in controls, specifically episodic memories from early adulthood were associated with metabolic activity in the cuneus and in parietal regions. We hypothesized that variable retrieval of episodic autobiographical memories in our aMCI patients would be related to their variable capacity to reactivate specific sensory-perceptual and contextual details of early adulthood events linked to reduced (occipito-parietal) visual imagery and less efficient (parietal) attentional processes. For recent memories (last year), a correlation emerged between the proportion of episodic details and activity in lateral temporal regions and the temporo-parietal junction. Accordingly, variable episodic memory for recent events may be related to the efficiency of controlled search through general events likely to provide cues for the retrieval of episodic details and to the ability to establish a self perspective favouring recollection.
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:Episodic details populate autobiographical memories with vivid representations of people, objects, and event happenings, and they link events to a specific time and place. Episodic detail generation is believed to be a function of medial temporal lobe (MTL)-cortical interaction, but much remains unclear about how this retrieval process unfolds. In the present study, we combined an autobiographical interview and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the relationships of two types of episodic detail, namely details about entities of an event (people and objects) or "event elements" and details about spatiotemporal context, to the integrity of anterotemporal (uncinate fasciculus; UF) and posteromedial (cingulum bundle; CB) cortical pathways. We also measured the relationships of these detail types to the fornix, and the relationship between non-episodic details and these tracts. We found that only episodic detail generation was significantly related to cortical and hippocampal pathways. Notably, the UF was more strongly related to event element details than it was to spatiotemporal context details. In contrast, CB was significantly and similarly related to the generation of event element and spatiotemporal context details (when not controlling for age and global diffusion). The fornix was also significantly related to both types of episodic detail, although the relationship to spatiotemporal context was particularly robust. These findings support the idea that anterotemporal cortical regions are related to the retrieval of episodic details about the entities that are incorporated into autobiographical events. Our findings also align with the notion that posteromedial and hippocampal-cortical involvement support the retrieval of episodic details.
Project description:Although autobiographical memory and episodic simulations recruit similar core brain regions, episodic simulations engage additional neural recruitment in the frontoparietal control network due to greater demands on constructive processes. However, previous functional neuroimaging studies showing differences in remembering and episodic simulation have focused on veridical retrieval of past experiences, and thus have not fully considered how retrieving the past in different ways from how it was originally experienced may also place similar demands on constructive processes. Here we examined how alternative versions of the past are constructed when adopting different egocentric perspectives during autobiographical memory retrieval compared to simulating hypothetical events from the personal past that could have occurred, or episodic counterfactual thinking. Participants were asked to generate titles for specific autobiographical memories from the last five years, and then, during functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) scanning, were asked to repeatedly retrieve autobiographical memories or imagine counterfactual events cued by the titles. We used an fMRI adaptation paradigm in order to isolate neural regions that were sensitive to adopting alternative egocentric perspectives and counterfactual simulations of the personal past. The fMRI results revealed that voxels within left posterior inferior parietal and ventrolateral frontal cortices were sensitive to novel visual perspectives and counterfactual simulations. Our findings suggest that the neural regions supporting remembering become more similar to those underlying episodic simulation when we adopt alternative egocentric perspectives of the veridical past.
Project description:Humans can vividly recall and re-experience events from their past, and these are commonly referred to as episodic or autobiographical memories. fMRI experiments reliably associate autobiographical event recall with activity in a network of "default" or "core" brain regions. However, as prior studies have relied on covert (silent) recall procedures, current understanding may be hampered by methodological limitations that obscure dynamic effects supporting moment-to-moment content retrieval. Here, fMRI participants (<i>N</i> = 40) overtly (verbally) recalled memories for ?2 min periods. The content of spoken descriptions was categorized using a variant of the Autobiographical Interview (AI) procedure (Levine et al., 2002) and temporally re-aligned with BOLD data so activity accompanying the recall of different details could be measured. Replicating prior work, sustained effects associated with autobiographical recall periods (which are insensitive to the moment-to-moment content of retrieval) fell primarily within canonical default network regions. Spoken descriptions were rich in episodic details, frequently focusing on physical entities, their ongoing activities, and their appearances. Critically, neural activity associated with recalling specific details (e.g., those related to people or places) was transient, broadly distributed, and grounded in category-selective cortex (e.g., regions related to social cognition or scene processing). Thus, although a single network may generally support the process of vivid event reconstruction, the structures required to provide detail-related information shift in a predictable manner that respects domain-level representations across the cortex.<b>SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT</b> Humans can vividly recall memories of autobiographical episodes, a process thought to involve the reconstruction of numerous distinct event details. Yet how the brain represents a complex episode as it unfolds over time remains unclear and appears inconsistent across experimental traditions. One hurdle is the use of covert (silent) in-scanner recall to study autobiographical memory, which prevents experimenter knowledge of what information is being retrieved, and when, throughout the remembering process. In this experiment, participants overtly described autobiographical memories while undergoing fMRI. Activity associated with the recall and description of specific details was transient, broadly distributed, and grounded in category-selective cortex. Thus, it appears that as events unfold mentally, structures are dynamically reactivated to support vivid recollection.
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:Autobiographical memories of past events and imaginations of future scenarios comprise both episodic and semantic content. Correlating the amount of "internal" (episodic) and "external" (semantic) details generated when describing autobiographical events can illuminate the relationship between the processes supporting these constructs. Yet previous studies performing such correlations were limited by aggregating data across all events generated by an individual, potentially obscuring the underlying relationship within the events themselves. In the current article, we reanalyzed datasets from eight studies using a multilevel approach, allowing us to explore the relationship between internal and external details within events. We also examined whether this relationship changes with healthy aging. Our reanalyses demonstrated a largely negative relationship between the internal and external details produced when describing autobiographical memories and future imaginations. This negative relationship was stronger and more consistent for older adults and was evident both in direct and indirect measures of semantic content. Moreover, this relationship appears to be specific to episodic tasks, as no relationship was observed for a nonepisodic picture description task. This negative association suggests that people do not generate semantic information indiscriminately, but do so in a compensatory manner, to embellish episodically impoverished events. Our reanalysis further lends support for dissociable processes underpinning episodic and semantic information generation when remembering and imagining autobiographical events.
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:Episodic memory refers to a complex and multifaceted process which enables the retrieval of richly detailed evocative memories from the past. In contrast, semantic memory is conceptualized as the retrieval of general conceptual knowledge divested of a specific spatiotemporal context. The neural substrates of the episodic and semantic memory systems have been dissociated in healthy individuals during functional imaging studies, and in clinical cohorts, leading to the prevailing view that episodic and semantic memory represent functionally distinct systems subtended by discrete neurobiological substrates. Importantly, however, converging evidence focusing on widespread neural networks now points to significant overlap between those regions essential for retrieval of autobiographical memories, episodic learning, and semantic processing. Here we review recent advances in episodic memory research focusing on neurodegenerative populations which has proved revelatory for our understanding of the complex interplay between episodic and semantic memory. Whereas episodic memory research has traditionally focused on retrieval of autobiographical events from the past, we also include evidence from the recent paradigm shift in which episodic memory is viewed as an adaptive and constructive process which facilitates the imagining of possible events in the future. We examine the available evidence which converges to highlight the pivotal role of semantic memory in providing schemas and meaning whether one is engaged in autobiographical retrieval for the past, or indeed, is endeavoring to construct a plausible scenario of an event in the future. It therefore seems plausible to contend that semantic processing may underlie most, if not all, forms of episodic memory, irrespective of temporal condition.
Project description:<b>Background</b>: Oculomotor movements have been shown to aid in the retrieval of episodic memories, serving as sensory cues that engage frontoparietal brain regions to reconstruct visuospatial details of a memory. Frontoparietal brain regions not only are involved in oculomotion, but also mediate, in part, the retrieval of autobiographical episodic memories and assist in emotion regulation. <b>Objective</b>: We sought to investigate how oculomotion influences retrieval of traumatic memories by examining patterns of frontoparietal brain activation during autobiographical memory retrieval in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and in healthy controls. <b>Method</b>: Thirty-nine participants (controls, <i>n</i> = 19; PTSD, <i>n</i> = 20) recollected both neutral and traumatic/stressful autobiographical memories while cued simultaneously by horizontal and vertical oculomotor stimuli. The frontal (FEF) and supplementary (SEF) eye fields were used as seed regions for psychophysiological interaction analyses in SPM12. <b>Results</b>: As compared to controls, upon retrieval of a traumatic/stressful memory while also performing simultaneous horizontal eye movements, PTSD showed: i) increased SEF and FEF connectivity with the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, ii) increased SEF connectivity with the right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and iii) increased SEF connectivity with the right anterior insula. By contrast, as compared to PTSD, upon retrieval of a traumatic/stressful memory while also performing simultaneous horizontal eye movements, controls showed: i) increased FEF connectivity with the right posterior insula and ii) increased SEF connectivity with the precuneus. <b>Conclusions</b>: These findings provide a neurobiological account for how oculomotion may influence the frontoparietal cortical representation of traumatic memories. Implications for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing are discussed.
Project description:Lifelog photo review is considered to enhance the recall of personal events. While a sizable body of research has explored the neural basis of autobiographical memory (AM), there is limited neural evidence on the retrieval-based enhancement effect on event memory among older adults in the real-world environment. This study examined the neural processes of AM as was modulated by retrieval practice through lifelog photo review in older adults. In the experiment, blood-oxygen-level dependent response during subjects' recall of recent events was recorded, where events were cued by photos that may or may not have been exposed to a priori retrieval practice (training). Subjects remembered more episodic details under the trained relative to non-trained condition. Importantly, the neural correlates of AM was exhibited by (1) dissociable cortical areas related to recollection and familiarity, and (2) a positive correlation between the amount of recollected episodic details and cortical activation within several lateral temporal and parietal regions. Further analysis of the brain activation pattern at a few regions of interest within the core remember network showed a training_condition?×?event_detail interaction effect, suggesting that the boosting effect of retrieval practice depended on the level of recollected event details.