Restudying material is a common method for learning new information, but not necessarily an effective one. Research on the testing effect shows that practice involving retrieval from memory can facilitate later memory in contrast to passive restudy. Despite extensive behavioral work, the brain processes that make retrieval an effective learning strategy remain unclear. In the present experiment, we explored how initially retrieving items affected memory a day later as compared to a condition involving traditional restudy. In contrast to restudy, initial testing that contributed to future memory success was associated with engagement of several regions including the anterior hippocampus, lateral temporal cortices, and medial prefrontalcortex (PFC). Additionally, testing enhanced hippocampal connectivity with ventro-lateral PFC and midline regions. These findings indicate that the testing effect may be contingent on processes that are typically thought to support memory success at encoding (e.g. relational binding, selection and elaboration of semantically-related information) in addition to those more often associated with retrieval (e.g. memory search). [PDF]
Figure caption: Testing effect interaction. Brain regions showing a condition (Test/Restudy) by memory (subsequently remembered/subsequently forgotten) interaction. Interaction effects are evident in left middle/inferior temporal gyri (A) and bilateral anterior hippocampus (B,C). Bars reflect SME (difference in activity between subsequently remembered and forgotten). Error bars denote standard error.