Cortical Reinstatement Mediates the Relationship Between Content-Specific Encoding Activity and Subsequent Recollection Decisions

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Episodic recollection entails the conscious remembrance of event details associated with previously encountered stimuli. Recollection depends on both the establishment of cortical representations of event features during stimulus encoding and the cortical reinstatement of these representations at retrieval. Here, we used multivoxel pattern analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging data to examine how cortical and hippocampal activity at encoding and retrieval drive recollective memory decisions. During encoding, words were associated with face or scene source contexts. At retrieval, subjects were cued to recollect the source associate of each presented word. Neurally derived estimates of encoding strength and pattern reinstatement in occipitotemporal cortex were computed for each encoding and retrieval trial, respectively. Analyses demonstrated that (1) cortical encoding strength predicted subsequent memory accuracy and reaction time, (2) encoding strength predicted encoding-phase hippocampal activity, and (3) encoding strength and retrieval-phase hippocampal activity predicted the magnitude of cortical reinstatement. Path analyses further indicated that cortical reinstatement partially mediated both the effect of cortical encoding strength and the effect of retrieval-phase hippocampal activity on subsequent source memory performance. Taken together, these results indicate that memory-guided decisions are driven in part by a pathway leading from hippocampally linked cortical encoding of event attributes to hippocampally linked cortical reinstatement at retrieval.

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