Cabeza R, St Jacques P. Functional neuroimaging of autobiographical memory. Trends Cogn Sci 11: 219-227

Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Box 90999, LSRC Building, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
Trends in Cognitive Sciences (Impact Factor: 21.97). 06/2007; 11(5):219-27. DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2007.02.005
Source: PubMed


Functional neuroimaging studies of autobiographical memory have grown dramatically in recent years. These studies are important because they can investigate the neural correlates of processes that are difficult to study using laboratory stimuli, including: (i) complex constructive processes, (ii) recollective qualities of emotion and vividness, and (iii) remote memory retrieval. Constructing autobiographical memories involves search, monitoring and self-referential processes that are associated with activity in separable prefrontal regions. The contributions of emotion and vividness have been linked to the amygdala and visual cortex respectively. Finally, there is evidence that recent and remote autobiographical memories might activate the hippocampus equally, which has implications for memory-consolidation theories. The rapid development of innovative methods for eliciting personal memories in the scanner provides the opportunity to delve into the functional neuroanatomy of our personal past.

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Available from: Peggy L. St. Jacques, May 21, 2014
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    • "The retrieval of multifaceted past events involves multi-modal sensory-perceptual details (Conway, 2001), semantic representations (Irish & Piguet, 2013), emotional connotations (Holland & Kensinger, 2010) and visual imagery (Greenberg & Rubin, 2003), integrated within a personally relevant setting (Conway, Singer, & Tagini, 2004). Neuroimaging studies consistently identify a distributed set of brain regions which support the retrieval of episodic memories from the past (Cabeza & St Jacques, 2007; Maguire, 2001; Svoboda, McKinnon, & Levine, 2006). This " core network " comprises the medial temporal lobes including the hippocampus, as well as frontopolar, lateral temporal, posterior parietal, and occipital cortices (Spreng, Mar, & Kim, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Episodic memory dysfunction represents one of the most prominent and characteristic clinical features of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), attributable to the degeneration of medial temporal and posterior parietal regions of the brain. Recent studies have demonstrated marked impairments in the ability to envisage personally relevant events in the future in AD. It remains unclear, however, whether AD patients can imagine fictitious scenes free from temporal constraints, a process that is proposed to rely fundamentally upon the integrity of the hippocampus. The objective of the present study was to investigate the capacity for atemporal scene construction, and its associated neural substrates, in AD. Fourteen AD patients were tested on the scene construction task and their performance was contrasted with 14 age- and education-matched healthy older Control participants. Scene construction performance was strikingly compromised in the AD group, with significant impairments evident for provision of contextual details, spatial coherence, and the overall richness of the imagined experience. Voxel-based morphometry analyses based on structural MRI revealed significant associations between scene construction capacity and atrophy in posterior parietal and lateral temporal brain structures in AD. In contrast, scene construction performance in Controls was related to integrity of frontal, parietal, and medial temporal structures, including the parahippocampal gyrus and posterior hippocampus. The posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) emerged as the common region implicated for scene construction performance across participant groups. Our study highlights the importance of regions specialised for spatial and contextual processing for the construction of atemporal scenes. Damage to these regions in AD compromises the ability to construct novel scenes, leading to the recapitulation of content from previously experienced events.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Cortex
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    • "In particular autobiographic memories lead to emotional responses and involve widespread functions of the brain ( Svoboda et al . , 2006 ; Cabeza and St Jacques , 2007 ; Piolino et al . , 2009 ) . "
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    ABSTRACT: The global cerebral network allows music " to do to us what it does. " While the same music can cause different emotions, the basic emotion of happy and sad songs can, nevertheless, be understood by most people. Consequently, the individual experience of music and its common effect on the human brain is a challenging subject for research. Various activities such as hearing, processing, and performing music provide us with different pictures of cerebral centers in PET. In comparison to these simple acts of experiencing music, the interaction and the therapeutic relationship between the patient and the therapist in Music Therapy (MT) provide us with an additional element in need of investigation. In the course of a pilot study, these problems were approached and reduced to the simple observation of pattern alteration in the brains of four individuals with Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome (UWS) during MT. Each patient had three PET investigations: (i) during a resting state, (ii) during the first exposure to MT, and (iii) during the last exposure to MT. Two patients in the MT group received MT for 5 weeks between the 2nd and the 3rd PET (three times a week), while two other patients in the control group had no MT in between. Tracer uptake was measured in the frontal, hippocampal, and cerebellar region of the brain. With certain differences in these three observed brain areas, the tracer uptake in the MT group was higher (34%) than in the control group after 5 weeks. The preliminary results suggest that MT activates the three brain regions described above. In this article, we present our approach to the neuroscience of MT and discuss the impact of our hypothesis on music therapy practice, neurological rehabilitation of individuals in UWS and additional neuroscientific research.
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    • "This complicates the execution and interpretation of the research in several ways: at the very least, it requires the use of different materials for each participant. It also creates ambiguity as to the precise content of memory retrieval, because it is difficult to be sure that participants are remembering the target personal events during testing and not recollecting their recent pre-experiment interview (Cabeza and St Jacques, 2007). One solution to this problem is to use materials that have an appropriate level of generality/commonality across participants, so that it is possible to measure personal forms of memories without using idiosyncratic materials or conducting pre-experimental interviews. "
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    ABSTRACT: Declarative memory is thought to consist of two independent systems: episodic and semantic. Episodic memory represents personal and contextually unique events, while semantic memory represents culturally-shared, acontextual factual knowledge. Personal semantics refers to aspects of declarative memory that appear to fall somewhere in between the extremes of episodic and semantic. Examples include autobiographical knowledge and memories of repeated personal events. These two aspects of personal semantics have been studied little and rarely compared to both semantic and episodic memory. We recorded the event-related potentials (ERPs) of 27 healthy participants while they verified the veracity of sentences probing four types of questions: general (i.e., semantic) facts, autobiographical facts, repeated events, and unique (i.e., episodic) events. Behavioral results showed equivalent reaction times in all 4 conditions. True sentences were verified faster than false sentences, except for unique events for which no significant difference was observed. Electrophysiological results showed that the N400 (which is classically associated with retrieval from semantic memory) was maximal for general facts and the LPC (which is classically associated with retrieval from episodic memory) was maximal for unique events. For both ERP components, the two personal semantic conditions (i.e., autobiographical facts and repeated events) systematically differed from semantic memory. In addition, N400 amplitudes also differentiated autobiographical facts from unique events. Autobiographical facts and repeated events did not differ significantly from each other but their corresponding scalp distributions differed from those associated with general facts. Our results suggest that the neural correlates of personal semantics can be distinguished from those of semantic and episodic memory, and may provide clues as to how unique events are transformed to semantic memory.
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