Parietal control network activation during memory tasks may be associated with the co-occurrence of externally and internally directed cognition: A cross-function meta-analysis

Brain Res. 2018 Mar 15:1683:55-66. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2018.01.022.


Functional neuroimaging studies on episodic memory retrieval consistently indicated the activation of the precuneus (PCU), mid-cingulate cortex (MCC), and lateral intraparietal sulcus (latIPS) regions. Although studies typically interpreted these activations in terms of memory retrieval processes, resting-state functional connectivity data indicate that these regions are part of the frontoparietal control network, suggesting a more general, cross-functional role. In this regard, this study proposes a novel hypothesis which suggests that the parietal control network plays a strong role in accommodating the co-occurrence of externally directed cognition (EDC) and internally directed cognition (IDC), which are typically antagonistic to each other. To evaluate how well this dual cognitive processes hypothesis can account for parietal activation patterns during memory tasks, this study provides a cross-function meta-analysis involving 3 different memory paradigms, namely, retrieval success (hit > correct rejection), repetition enhancement (repeated > novel), and subsequent forgetting (forgotten > remembered). Common to these paradigms is that the target condition may involve both EDC (stimulus processing and motor responding) and IDC (intentional remembering, involuntary awareness of previous encounter, or task-unrelated thoughts) strongly, whereas the reference condition may involve EDC to a greater extent, but IDC to a lesser extent. Thus, the dual cognitive processes hypothesis predicts that each of these paradigms will activate similar, overlapping PCU, MCC, and latIPS regions. The results were fully consistent with the prediction, supporting the dual cognitive processes hypothesis. Evidence from relevant prior studies suggests that the dual cognitive processes hypothesis may also apply to non-memory domain tasks.

Keywords: Encoding; Memory; Meta-analysis; Mind-wandering; Retrieval; fMRI.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*