Search and recovery of autobiographical and laboratory memories: Shared and distinct neural components.
Functional neuroimaging evidence suggests that there are differences in the neural correlates of episodic memory for laboratory stimuli (laboratory memory) and for events from one's own life (autobiographical memory). However, this evidence is scarce and often confounded with differences in memory testing procedures. Here, we directly compared the neural mechanisms underlying the search and recovery of autobiographical and laboratory memories while minimizing testing differences. Before scanning, participants completed a laboratory memory encoding task in which they studied four-word "chains" spread across three word pairs. During scanning, participants completed a laboratory memory retrieval task, in which they recalled the word chains, and an autobiographical memory retrieval task, in which they recalled specific personal events associated with word cues. Importantly, response times were similar in the two tasks, allowing for a direct comparison of the activation time courses. We found that during memory search (searching for the memory target), similar brain regions were activated during both the autobiographical and laboratory tasks, whereas during memory recovery (accessing the memory traces; i.e., ecphory), clear differences emerged: regions of the default mode network (DMN) were activated greater during autobiographical than laboratory memory, whereas the bilateral superior parietal lobules were activated greater during laboratory than autobiographical memory. Also, multivariate functional connectivity analyses revealed that regardless of memory stage, the DMN and ventral attention network exhibited a more integrated topology in the functional network underlying autobiographical (vs. laboratory) memory retrieval, whereas the fronto-parietal task control network exhibited a more integrated topology in the functional network underlying laboratory (vs. autobiographical) memory retrieval. These findings further characterize the shared and distinct neural components underlying autobiographical and laboratory memories, and suggest that differences in autobiographical vs. laboratory memory brain activation previously reported in the literature reflect memory recovery rather than search differences.
Monge, ZA; Wing, EA; Stokes, J; Cabeza, R
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