Multiple interacting brain areas underlie successful spatiotemporal memory retrieval in humans

Sci Rep. 2014 Sep 19;4:6431. doi: 10.1038/srep06431.


Emerging evidence suggests that our memories for recent events depend on a dynamic interplay between multiple cortical brain regions, although previous research has also emphasized a primary role for the hippocampus in episodic memory. One challenge in determining the relative importance of interactions between multiple brain regions versus a specific brain region is a lack of analytic approaches to address this issue. Participants underwent neuroimaging while retrieving the spatial and temporal details of a recently experienced virtual reality environment; we then employed graph theory to analyze functional connectivity patterns across multiple lobes. Dense, large-scale increases in connectivity during successful memory retrieval typified network topology, with individual participant performance correlating positively with overall network density. Within this dense network, the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, precuneus, and visual cortex served as "hubs" of high connectivity. Spatial and temporal retrieval were characterized by distinct but overlapping "subnetworks" with higher connectivity within posterior and anterior brain areas, respectively. Together, these findings provide new insight into the neural basis of episodic memory, suggesting that the interactions of multiple hubs characterize successful memory retrieval. Furthermore, distinct subnetworks represent components of spatial versus temporal retrieval, with the hippocampus acting as a hub integrating information between these two subnetworks.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Radiography
  • User-Computer Interface
  • Visual Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology