Sustained upregulation of widespread hippocampal-neocortical coupling following memory encoding

Cereb Cortex. 2023 Apr 4;33(8):4844-4858. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhac384.


Systems consolidation of new experiences into lasting episodic memories involves hippocampal-neocortical interactions. Evidence of this process is already observed during early post-encoding rest periods, both as increased hippocampal coupling with task-relevant perceptual regions and reactivation of stimulus-specific patterns following intensive encoding tasks. We investigate the spatial and temporal characteristics of these hippocampally anchored post-encoding neocortical modulations. Eighty-nine adults participated in an experiment consisting of interleaved memory task- and resting-state periods. We observed increased post-encoding functional connectivity between hippocampus and individually localized neocortical regions responsive to stimuli encountered during memory encoding. Post-encoding modulations were manifested as a nearly system-wide upregulation in hippocampal coupling with all major functional networks. The configuration of these extensive modulations resembled hippocampal-neocortical interaction patterns estimated from active encoding operations, suggesting hippocampal post-encoding involvement exceeds perceptual aspects. Reinstatement of encoding patterns was not observed in resting-state scans collected 12 h later, nor when using other candidate seed regions. The similarity in hippocampal functional coupling between online memory encoding and offline post-encoding rest suggests reactivation in humans involves a spectrum of cognitive processes engaged during the experience of an event. There were no age effects, suggesting that upregulation of hippocampal-neocortical connectivity represents a general phenomenon seen across the adult lifespan.

Keywords: fMRI; functional connectivity; hippocampus; reactivation; systems consolidation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory Consolidation*
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Neocortex* / physiology
  • Up-Regulation