Event-related fMRI studies of false memory: An Activation Likelihood Estimation meta-analysis

Neuropsychologia. 2016 Jan 29;81:149-167. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.12.006. Epub 2015 Dec 10.


Over the last two decades, a wealth of research in the domain of episodic memory has focused on understanding the neural correlates mediating false memories, or memories for events that never happened. While several recent qualitative reviews have attempted to synthesize this literature, methodological differences amongst the empirical studies and a focus on only a sub-set of the findings has limited broader conclusions regarding the neural mechanisms underlying false memories. The current study performed a voxel-wise quantitative meta-analysis using activation likelihood estimation to investigate commonalities within the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) literature studying false memory. The results were broken down by memory phase (encoding, retrieval), as well as sub-analyses looking at differences in baseline (hit, correct rejection), memoranda (verbal, semantic), and experimental paradigm (e.g., semantic relatedness and perceptual relatedness) within retrieval. Concordance maps identified significant overlap across studies for each analysis. Several regions were identified in the general false retrieval analysis as well as multiple sub-analyses, indicating their ubiquitous, yet critical role in false retrieval (medial superior frontal gyrus, left precentral gyrus, left inferior parietal cortex). Additionally, several regions showed baseline- and paradigm-specific effects (hit/perceptual relatedness: inferior and middle occipital gyrus; CRs: bilateral inferior parietal cortex, precuneus, left caudate). With respect to encoding, analyses showed common activity in the left middle temporal gyrus and anterior cingulate cortex. No analysis identified a common cluster of activation in the medial temporal lobe.

Keywords: Encoding; False memory; GingerALE; Meta-analysis; Retrieval; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Repression, Psychology*