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Cortex. 2017 Jun;91:101-113. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.12.011. Epub 2016 Dec 22.

Decoding the content of recollection within the core recollection network and beyond.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Center for Vital Longevity and School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, USA.


Recollection - retrieval of qualitative information about a past event - is associated with enhanced neural activity in a consistent set of neural regions (the 'core recollection network') seemingly regardless of the nature of the recollected content. Here, we employed multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) to assess whether retrieval-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activity in core recollection regions - including the hippocampus, angular gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex, retrosplenial/posterior cingulate cortex, and middle temporal gyrus - contain information about studied content and thus demonstrate retrieval-related 'reinstatement' effects. During study, participants viewed objects and concrete words that were subjected to different encoding tasks. Test items included studied words, the names of studied objects, or unstudied words. Participants judged whether the items were recollected, familiar, or new by making 'remember', 'know', and 'new' responses, respectively. The study history of remembered test items could be reliably decoded using MVPA in most regions, as well as from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region where univariate recollection effects could not be detected. The findings add to evidence that members of the core recollection network, as well as at least one neural region where mean signal is insensitive to recollection success, carry information about recollected content. Importantly, the study history of recognized items endorsed with a 'know' response could be decoded with equal accuracy. The results thus demonstrate a striking dissociation between mean signal and multi-voxel indices of recollection. Moreover, they converge with prior findings in suggesting that, as it is operationalized by classification-based MVPA, reinstatement is not uniquely a signature of recollection.


Episodic memory; Know; MVPA; Reinstatement; Remember

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