Characterizing spatial and temporal features of autobiographical memory retrieval networks: a partial least squares approach

Neuroimage. 2004 Dec;23(4):1460-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.08.007.


Conway (Conway, M.A., 1992. A structural model of autobiographical memory. In: Conway, M.A., Spinnler, H., Wagenaar, W.A. (Eds.), Theoretical Perspectives on Autobiological Memory. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 167-194) proposed that two types of autobiographical memories (AMs) exist within a hierarchical AM system: unique, specific events and repeated, general memories. There is little research on whether retrieval of these AMs relies on different neural substrates. To investigate this issue, we used a multivariate image analysis technique, spatiotemporal partial least squares (PLS), to identify distributed patterns of activity most related to AM tasks that we have found to be associated with a medial and left-lateralized network. Using PLS, specific and general memories were more strongly associated with different parts of this retrieval network. Specific AM retrieval was associated more with activation of regions involved in imagery in episodic memory, including the left precuneus, left superior parietal lobule and right cuneus, whereas general AM retrieval was associated with activation of the right inferior temporal gyrus, right medial frontal cortex, and left thalamus. These two patterns emerged at different lags after stimulus onset, with the general AM pattern peaking between 2 and 6 s, and the specific AM pattern between 6 and 8 s. These lag differences are consistent with Conway's theory which posits that general AMs are the preferred level of entry to the AM system. A seed PLS analysis revealed that the regions functionally connected to the hippocampus during retrieval did not differentiate specific from general AM retrieval, which confirms our earlier univariate analysis indicating that some aspects of the memory retrieval network are shared by these memories.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Least-Squares Analysis*
  • Life Change Events*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Thalamus / physiology