Apr 28, 2020

vmPFC drives hippocampal processing during autobiographical memory recall regardless of remoteness

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
C. McCormickEleanor A Maguire


Our ability to recall past experiences, autobiographical memories (AMs), is crucial to cognition, endowing us with a sense of self and underwriting our capacity for autonomy. Traditional views assume that the hippocampus orchestrates event recall, whereas recent accounts propose that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) instigates and coordinates hippocampal-dependent processes. Here we sought to characterise the dynamic interplay between hippocampus and vmPFC during AM recall to adjudicate between these perspectives. Leveraging the high temporal resolution of magnetoencephalography, we found that the hippocampus and the vmPFC showed the greatest power changes during AM retrieval. Moreover, responses in the vmPFC preceded activity in the hippocampus during initiation of AM recall, except during retrieval of the most recent AMs. The vmPFC drove hippocampal activity during recall initiation and also as AMs unfolded over subsequent seconds, and this effect was evident regardless of AM age. These results re-cast the positions of the hippocampus and the vmPFC in the AM retrieval hierarchy, with implications for theoretical accounts of memory processing and systems-level consolidation.

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