Remembering the past : multimodal imaging of cortical contributions to episodic retrieval
Multimodal imaging of cortical contributions to episodic retrieval
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
Anthony D. Wagner.
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What is the nature of the neural processes that allow humans to remember past events? The theoretical framework adopted in this thesis builds upon cognitive models that suggest that episodic retrieval can be decomposed into two classes of computations: (1) recovery processes that serve to reactivate stored memories, making information from a past episode readily available, and (2) control processes that serve to guide the retrieval attempt and monitor/evaluate information arising from the recovery processes. A multimodal imaging approach that combined fMRI and MEG was adopted to gain insight into the spatial and temporal brain mechanisms supporting episodic retrieval. Chapter 1 reviews major findings and theories in the episodic retrieval literature grounding the open questions and controversies within the suggested framework. Chapter 2 describes an fMRI and MEG experiment that identified medial temporal cortical structures that signal item memory strength, thus supporting the perception of item familiarity. Chapter 3 describes an fMRI experiment that demonstrated that retrieval of contextual details involves reactivation of neural patterns engaged at encoding.(cont.) Further, leveraging this pattern of reactivation, it was demonstrated that false recognition may be accompanied by recollection. The fMRI experiment reported in Chapter 3, when combined with an MEG experiment reported in Chapter 4, directly addressed questions regarding the control processes engaged during episodic retrieval. In particular, Chapter 3 showed that parietal and prefrontal cortices contribute to controlling the act of arriving at a retrieval decision. Chapter 4 then illuminates the temporal characteristics of parietal activation during episodic retrieval, providing novel evidence about the nature of parietal responses and thus constraints on theories of parietal involvement in episodic retrieval. The conducted research targeted distinct aspects of the multi-faceted act of remembering the past. The obtained data contribute to the building of an anatomical and temporal "blueprint" documenting the cascade of neural events that unfold during attempts to remember, as well as when such attempts are met with success or lead to memory errors. In the course of framing this research within the context of cognitive models of retrieval, the obtained neural data reflect back on and constrain these theories of remembering.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 2005.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Brain and Cognitive Sciences.