We investigate the neural mechanisms of various episodic retrieval processes, link including recovery processes associated with MTL, medical control processes associated with PFC, and support processes associated with PFC and posterior parietal cortices (PPC).
Recovery refers to the access of stored memory traces, in the form of specific contextual details (recollection) or in the form of a global oldness signal (familiarity). Recollection is associated with the hippocampus and familiarity with rhinal cortex (Daselaar et al., 2006). The link between the hippocampus in recollection is related to the role of this region in relational memory (Prince et al., 2005), whereas the link between rhinal cortex and familiarity partly reflects a fluency mechanism (Dew et al., in preparation).
Control processes include generating a description of target memories before recovery (specifying) and evaluating the accuracy and appropriateness of recovered memories (monitoring). We have associated specifying with left PFC, and monitoring, with right PFC (Cabeza et al., 2003). Monitoring recollection involves the qualitative inspection of recovered episodic details, whereas monitoring familiarity is a process akin to estimating a magnitude. Consistent with the latter, monitoring-related right PFC activity during episodic retrieval tasks are shared non-mnemonic magnitude estimation tasks (Fleck et al., 2006)
Support processes are cognitive operations that influence recovery more indirectly. Episodic retrieval depends on attention guided by behavioral goals (top-down attention) and attention guided by incoming information (bottom-up attention), which in the case of episodic retrieval include retrieval cues and recovered memories. We have associated top-down attention during episodic retrieval with dorsal PPC and bottom-up attention, with ventral PPC (Cabeza et al., 2008; Cabeza et al., 2011). In addition to broad goals, top-down attention may be guided by retrieval-specific goals (retrieval orientation), a process associated with dorsolateral PFC.
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