Shared and distinct contributions of rostrolateral prefrontal cortex to analogical reasoning and episodic memory retrieval

Andrew Westphal, Nicco Reggente, Kaori Ito, Jesse Rissman

Abstract: Rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC) is widely appreciated to support higher cognitive functions, including analogical reasoning and episodic memory retrieval. However, these tasks have typically been studied in isolation, and thus it is unclear whether they involve common or distinct RLPFC mechanisms. Here, we introduce a novel functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task paradigm to compare brain activity during reasoning and memory tasks while holding bottom-up perceptual stimulation and response demands constant. Univariate analyses on fMRI data from twenty participants identified a large swath of left lateral prefrontal cortex, including RLPFC, that showed common engagement on reasoning trials with valid analogies and memory trials with accurately retrieved source details. Despite broadly overlapping recruitment, multi-voxel activity patterns within left RLPFC reliably differentiated these two trial types, highlighting the presence of at least partially distinct information processing modes. Functional connectivity analyses demonstrated that while left RLPFC showed consistent coupling with the fronto-parietal control network across tasks, its coupling with other cortical areas varied in a task-dependent manner. During the memory task, this region strengthened its connectivity with the default mode and memory retrieval networks, whereas during the reasoning task it coupled more strongly with a nearby left prefrontal region (BA 45) associated with semantic processing, as well as with a superior parietal region associated with visuospatial processing. Taken together, these data suggest a domain-general role for left RLPFC in monitoring and/or integrating task-relevant knowledge representations and showcase how its function cannot solely be attributed to episodic memory or analogical reasoning computations.

Read the full article, here: Westphal_HBM_2015

Decoding fMRI Signatures of Real-world Autobiographical Memory Retrieval

Jesse Rissman, Tiffany E. Chow, Nicco Reggente, and Anthony D. Wagner

Abstract: Extant neuroimaging data implicate frontoparietal and medial-temporal lobe regions in episodic retrieval, and the specific pattern of activity within and across these regions is diagnostic of an individual’s subjective mnemonic experience. For example, in laboratory-based paradigms, memories for recently encoded faces can be accurately decoded from single-trial fMRI patterns. Goal-directed modulation of neural memory patterns: Implications for fMRI-based memory detection. Detecting individual memories through the neural decoding of memory states and past experience. Here, we investigated the neural patterns underlying memory for real-world autobiographical events, probed at 1- to 3-week retention intervals as well as whether distinct patterns are associated with different subjective memory states. For 3 weeks, participants ( n = 16) wore digital cameras that captured photographs of their daily activities. One week later, they were scanned while making memory judgments about sequences of photos depicting events from their own lives or events captured by the cameras of others. Whole-brain multivoxel pattern analysis achieved near-perfect accuracy at distinguishing correctly recognized events from correctly rejected novel events, and decoding performance did not significantly vary with retention interval. Multivoxel pattern analysis classifiers also differentiated recollection from familiarity and reliably decoded the subjective strength of recollection, of familiarity, or of novelty. Classification-based brain maps revealed dissociable neural signatures of these mnemonic states, with activity patterns in hippocampus, medial pFC, and ventral parietal cortex being particularly diagnostic of recollection. Finally, a classifier trained on previously acquired laboratory-based memory data achieved reliable decoding of autobiographical memory states. We discuss the implications for neuroscientific accounts of episodic retrieval and comment on the potential forensic use of fMRI for probing experiential knowledge.

Read the full article, here: Decoding fMRI Signatures of Real-world Autobiographical Memory Retrieval