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J Cogn Neurosci. 2019 Sep;31(9):1308-1317. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01321. Epub 2018 Jul 31.

Decision-making Increases Episodic Memory via Postencoding Consolidation.

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Temple University.
Princeton University.
Columbia University.


The ability for individuals to actively make decisions engages regions within the mesolimbic system and enhances memory for chosen items. In other behavioral contexts, mesolimbic engagement has been shown to enhance episodic memory by supporting consolidation. However, research has yet to investigate how consolidation may support interactions between decision-making and episodic memory. Across two studies, participants encoded items that were covered by occluder screens and could either actively decide which of two items to uncover or an item was preselected by the experimenter. In Study 1, we show that active decision-making reduces forgetting rates across an immediate and 24-hr memory test, a behavioral marker of consolidation. In Study 2, we use functional neuroimaging to characterize putative neural markers of memory consolidation by measuring interactions between the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex (PRC) during a postencoding period that reexposed participants to elements of the decision-making context without exposing them to memoranda. We show that choice-related striatal engagement is associated with increased postencoding hippocampal-PRC interactions. Finally, we show that a previous reported relationship between choice-related striatal engagement and long-term memory is accounted for by these postencoding hippocampal-PRC interactions. Together, these findings support a model by which actively deciding to encode information enhances memory consolidation to preserve episodic memory for outcomes, a process that may be facilitated by reexposure to the original decision-making context.

[Available on 2019-12-01]

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