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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The neural correlates of recollection: transient versus sustained fMRI effects

  • Author(s): Vilberg, Kaia L.
  • Rugg, Michael D.
  • et al.

Prior research has identified several regions where neural activity is enhanced when recollection of episodic information is successful. Here, we investigated whether these regions dissociate according to whether recollection-related activity is transient or sustained across the time that recollected information must be maintained prior to a behavioral judgment. Human subjects studied a series of word-picture pairs under the requirement to judge which of the denoted objects was smaller. Following each of 4 study sessions, a scanned test phase occurred in which a series of studied and unstudied words was presented. The requirement at test was to judge whether each word was old or new and, if judged old, to retrieve the associated study picture and hold it in mind until a cue appeared. The delay interval varied between two and eight seconds. The cue instructed subjects which of three different judgments should be applied to the retrieved picture. Separate responses were required when words were either deemed new or the associated image was not retrieved. Relative to studied words for which the associated picture could not be retrieved, words giving rise to successful recollection elicited transient responses in the hippocampus/parahippocampal cortex and retrosplenial cortex, and to sustained activity in prefrontal cortex, the intra-parietal sulcus, the left angular gyrus and the inferior temporal gyrus. The finding that recollection-related activity in the angular gyrus tracked the period over which recollected information was maintained is consistent with the proposal that this region contributes to the online representation of recollected information.

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