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Reactivation of visual cortex during memory retrieval: content specificity and emotional modulation

Published in NeuroImage. 2012, vol. 60, no. 3, p. 1734-45
Abstract Studies on memory retrieval suggest a reactivation of cortical regions engaged during encoding, such that visual or auditory areas reactivate for visual or auditory memories. The content specificity and any emotion dependency of such reactivations are still unclear. Because distinct visual areas are specialized in processing distinct stimulus categories, we tested for face and word specific reactivations during a memory task using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Furthermore, because visual processing and memory are both modulated by emotion, we compared reactivation for stimuli encoded in a neutral or emotionally significant context. In the learning phase, participants studied pairs of stimuli that consisted of either a scene and a face, or a scene and a word. Scenes were either neutral or negative, but did not contain faces or words. In the test phase scenes were presented alone (one in turn), and participants indicated whether it was previously paired with a face, a word, or was new. Results from the test phase showed activation in a functionally defined face-responsive region in the right fusiform gyrus, as well as in a word-responsive region in the left inferior temporal gyrus, for scenes previously paired with faces and words, respectively. Reactivation tended to be larger in both the face- and word-responsive regions when the associated scene was negative as compared to neutral. However, relative to neutral context, the recall of faces and words paired with a negative context produced smaller activations in brain regions associated with social and semantic processing, respectively, as well as poorer memory performance overall. Taken together, these results support the idea of cortical memory reactivations, even at a content-specific level, and further suggest that emotional context may produce opposite effects on reactivations in early sensory areas and more elaborate processing in higher-level cortical areas.
Keywords AdultCerebral Cortex/physiologyEmotions/physiologyFemaleHumansMagnetic Resonance ImagingMaleMental Recall/physiologyPattern Recognition, Visual/physiologyVisual Cortex/physiologyYoung Adult
PMID: 22305991
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Research groups Affective sciences
Mécanismes cérébraux du comportement et des fonctions cognitives (701)
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HOFSTETTER, Christoph, ACHAIBOU, Amal, VUILLEUMIER, Patrik. Reactivation of visual cortex during memory retrieval: content specificity and emotional modulation. In: NeuroImage, 2012, vol. 60, n° 3, p. 1734-45. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.01.110 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:31266

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Deposited on : 2013-11-22

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