Shared and distinct contributions of rostral prefrontal cortex to analogical reasoning and episodic memory retrieval: Insights from fMRI functional connectivity and multivariate pattern analyses

Westphal, A.J., Reggente, N., Nawabi, Y., & Rissman, J.


CNS 2013 Abstract


The rostral prefrontal cortex (RPFC), positioned at the apex of the prefrontal processing hierarchy, has been implicated in a diverse array of high-level cognitive processes including analogical reasoning and episodic memory retrieval—tasks that may share demands for relational integration. However, because reasoning and memory tasks have not been compared in the same studies, the degree of neuroanatomical overlap is unclear. To address this gap, we developed an fMRI paradigm that required subjects to periodically shift between Reasoning, Memory, and Perception tasks, closely matched for response demands, reaction times, and bottom-up stimulus processing. On all trials, participants were presented with an array of four words, with the cognitive operations to be performed on this array specified by a task set cue provided at the beginning of each block. Although RPFC regions showed highly overlapping recruitment during successfully solved analogy and source memory retrieval trials, without significant univariate differences, multi-voxel pattern analysis identified areas of RPFC wherein local activity patterns could facilitate robust decoding of these trial types. One such prominent cluster in left lateral RPFC was then seeded in a psychophysiological interaction analysis. Strikingly, this region showed divergent profiles of functional connectivity across task blocks, coupling more strongly with frontoparietal control network structures during Reasoning and with default mode network structures during Memory. These findings suggest that common areas of RPFC may differentially contribute to analogical reasoning and episodic retrieval via their coordinated interactions with distinct brain networks that respectively facilitate the integration of complex semantic or episodic relationships.



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