Dissociable roles of default-mode regions during episodic encoding

Neuroimage. 2014 Apr 1;89:244-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.11.050. Epub 2013 Dec 6.


We investigated the role of distinct regions of the default-mode network (DMN) during memory encoding with fMRI. Subjects encoded words using either a strategy that emphasized self-referential (pleasantness) processing, or one that emphasized semantic (man-made/natural) processing. During encoding subjects were intermittently presented with thought probes to evaluate if they were concentrated and on-task or exhibiting task-unrelated thoughts (TUT). After the scanning session subjects performed a source retrieval task to determine which of two judgments they performed for each word at encoding. Source retrieval accuracy was higher for words encoded with the pleasantness vs. the man-made/natural task and there was a trend for higher performance for words preceding on-task vs. TUT reports. fMRI results show that left anterior medial PFC and left angular gyrus activity was greater during successful vs. unsuccessful encoding during both encoding tasks. Greater activity in left anterior cingulate and bilateral lateral temporal cortex was related successful vs. unsuccessful encoding only in the pleasantness task. In contrast, posterior cingulate, right anterior cingulate and right temporoparietal junction were activated to a greater extent in unsuccessful vs. successful encoding across tasks. Finally, activation in posterior cingulate and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was related to TUT across tasks; moreover, we observed a conjunction in posterior cingulate between encoding failure and TUT. We conclude that DMN regions play dissociable roles during memory formation, and that their association with subsequent memory may depend on the manner in which information is encoded and retrieved.

Keywords: Default-mode network; Encoding strategy; Episodic memory encoding; Mind-wandering; Task-unrelated thoughts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Semantics
  • Young Adult