Ecphory of autobiographical memories: an fMRI study of recent and remote memory retrieval

Neuroimage. 2006 Mar;30(1):285-98. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.09.025. Epub 2005 Oct 28.


Ecphory occurs when one recollects a past event cued by a trigger, such as a picture, odor, or name. It is a central component of autobiographical memory, which allows us to "travel mentally back in time" and re-experience specific events from our personal past. Using fMRI and focusing on the role of medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures, we investigated the brain bases of autobiographical memory and whether they change with the age of memories. Importantly, we used an ecphory task in which the remote character of the memories was ensured. The results showed that a large bilateral network supports autobiographical memory: temporal lobe, temporo-parieto-occipital junction, dorsal prefrontal cortex, medial frontal cortex, retrosplenial cortex and surrounding areas, and MTL structures. This network, including MTL structures, changed little with the age of the memories.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Autobiographies as Topic
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cues*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*
  • Semantics