Differential contribution of anterior and posterior midline regions during mental simulation of counterfactual and perspective shifts in autobiographical memories.
Retrieving autobiographical memories induces a natural tendency to mentally simulate alternate versions of past events, either by reconstructing the perceptual details of the originally experienced perspective or the conceptual information of what actually occurred. Here we examined whether the episodic system recruited during imaginative experiences functionally dissociates depending on the nature of this reconstruction. Using fMRI, we evaluated differential patterns of neural activity and hippocampal connectivity when twenty-nine participants naturally recalled past negative events, shifted visual perspective, or imagined better or worse outcomes than what actually occurred. We found that counterfactual thoughts were distinguished by neural recruitment in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, whereas shifts in visual perspective were uniquely supported by the precuneus. Additionally, connectivity with the anterior hippocampus changed depending upon the mental simulation that was performed - with enhanced hippocampal connectivity with medial prefrontal cortex for counterfactual simulations and precuneus for shifted visual perspectives. Together, our findings provide a novel assessment of differences between these common methods of mental simulation and a more detailed account for the neural network underlying episodic retrieval and reconstruction.
Faul, L; St Jacques, PL; DeRosa, JT; Parikh, N; De Brigard, F
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