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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Retrieval practice facilitates memory updating by enhancing and differentiating medial prefrontal cortex representations.

  • Author(s): Ye, Zhifang
  • Shi, Liang
  • Li, Anqi
  • Chen, Chuansheng
  • Xue, Gui
  • et al.

Updating old memories with new, more current information is critical for human survival, yet the neural mechanisms for memory updating in general and the effect of retrieval practice in particular are poorly understood. Using a three-day A-B/A-C memory updating paradigm, we found that compared to restudy, retrieval practice could strengthen new A-C memories and reduce old A-B memory intrusion, but did not suppress A-B memories. Neural activation pattern analysis revealed that compared to restudy, retrieval practice led to stronger target representation in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) during the final test. Critically, it was only under the retrieval practice condition that the MPFC showed strong and comparable competitor evidence for both correct and incorrect trials during final test, and that the MPFC target representation during updating was predictive of subsequent memory. These results suggest that retrieval practice is able to facilitate memory updating by strongly engaging MPFC mechanisms in memory integration, differentiation and consolidation.

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