Altered task-dependent functional connectivity patterns during subjective recollection experiences of episodic retrieval in postpartum women

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Numerous studies have suggested that postpartum women show a decline in cognitive abilities. However, to date, no study has investigated the presence of qualitative alterations in recognition memory processes in postpartum women that may lead to a decline in cognitive ability. To address this issue, we employed the Remember/Know procedure and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Behavioral results demonstrated that compared with the matched control (CTRL) group, the postpartum (PP) group endorsed “Remember” less and “Know” more to old items. A univariate analysis of fMRI data indicated lower neural activity of the subjective recollection network in the PP group than in the CTRL group. We also performed a large-scale functional connectivity multivariate pattern analysis (fcMVPA) using task-dependent time-series to detect differences in functional connectivity patterns and neural interactivity between the PP and CTRL groups. The fcMVPA results revealed that the PP group exhibited altered functional connectivity patterns from which machine learning algorithms could discriminate group membership with 94% accuracy. Collectively, these findings demonstrated that altered subjective recollection processes in the PP group during episodic memory decisions are associated with diminished neural activity and abnormal interactivity across the subjective recollection network. We believe that this is one of the first studies demonstrating qualitative alterations in recognition memory processes in postpartum women.

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