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Cereb Cortex. 2014 Jan;24(1):49-66. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs278. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

Functional heterogeneity in posterior parietal cortex across attention and episodic memory retrieval.

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Department of Psychology.


While attention is critical for event memory, debate has arisen regarding the extent to which posterior parietal cortex (PPC) activation during episodic retrieval reflects engagement of PPC-mediated mechanisms of attention. Here, we directly examined the relationship between attention and memory, within and across subjects, using functional magnetic resonance imaging attention-mapping and episodic retrieval paradigms. During retrieval, 4 functionally dissociable PPC regions were identified. Specifically, 2 PPC regions positively tracked retrieval outcomes: lateral intraparietal sulcus (latIPS) indexed graded item memory strength, whereas angular gyrus (AnG) tracked recollection. By contrast, 2 other PPC regions demonstrated nonmonotonic relationships with retrieval: superior parietal lobule (SPL) tracked retrieval reaction time, consistent with a graded engagement of top-down attention, whereas temporoparietal junction displayed a complex pattern of below-baseline retrieval activity, perhaps reflecting disengagement of bottom-up attention. Analyses of retrieval effects in PPC topographic spatial attention maps (IPS0-IPS5; SPL1) revealed that IPS5 and SPL1 exhibited a nonmonotonic relationship with retrieval outcomes resembling that in the SPL region, further suggesting that SPL activation during retrieval reflects top-down attention. While demands on PPC attention mechanisms vary during retrieval attempts, the present functional parcellation of PPC indicates that 2 additional mechanisms (mediated by latIPS and AnG) positively track retrieval outcomes.


FMRI; dual attention theory; familiarity; recollection; topographic mapping

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