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Sci Rep. 2016 Jun 24;6:28630. doi: 10.1038/srep28630.

Ventromedial prefrontal cortex, adding value to autobiographical memories.

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UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17 Queen Sq., London WC1N 3AZ, UK.
UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Sq., London WC1N 3BG, UK.
Department of Psychology, University of York, York YO10 5DD, UK.


The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been consistently implicated in autobiographical memory recall and decision making. Its function in decision making tasks is believed to relate to value representation, but its function in autobiographical memory recall is not yet clear. We hypothesised that the mPFC represents the subjective value of elements during autobiographical memory retrieval. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging during an autobiographical memory recall task, we found that the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) was parametrically modulated by the affective values of items in participants' memories when they were recalling and evaluating these items. An unrelated modulation by the participant's familiarity with the items was also observed. During retrieval of the event, the BOLD signal in the same region was modulated by the personal significance and emotional intensity of the memory, which was correlated with the values of the items within them. These results support the idea that vmPFC processes self-relevant information, and suggest that it is involved in representing the personal emotional values of the elements comprising autobiographical memories.

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