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Neuron. 2006 Nov 9;52(3):547-56.

Episodic encoding is more than the sum of its parts: an fMRI investigation of multifeatural contextual encoding.

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Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, and Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


Episodic memories are characterized by their contextual richness, yet little is known about how the various features comprising an episode are brought together in memory. Here we employed fMRI and a multidimensional source memory procedure to investigate processes supporting the mnemonic binding of item and contextual information. Volunteers were scanned while encoding items for which the contextual features (color and location) varied independently, allowing activity elicited at the time of study to be segregated according to whether both, one, or neither feature was successfully retrieved on a later memory test. Activity uniquely associated with successful encoding of both features was identified in the intra-parietal sulcus, a region strongly implicated in the support of attentionally mediated perceptual binding. The findings suggest that the encoding of disparate features of an episode into a common memory representation requires that the features be conjoined in a common perceptual representation when the episode is initially experienced.

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