Poster E69, Monday, March 26, 2:30-4:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Episodic simulations reveal the structure of affective representations in medial prefrontal cortex
Philipp C. Paulus1, Ian Charest2, Roland G. Benoit1; 1Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany, 2University of Birmingham, UK
The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been associated with mnemonic processing as well as with valuation. Here, we test the hypothesis that this region supports these seemingly disparate functions by representing affective schemata of our environment. That is, we suggest that the mPFC codes for elements from our environment (e.g., for personally familiar people) such that the representational geometry of those elements is determined by (i) the position of the elements within their network (e.g., how central a person is to an individual’s social sphere), (ii) the degree of knowledge about those elements, and (iii) their affective value. To test this hypothesis, participants provided names of personally familiar people and places. They then arranged the names on a two-dimensional surface to indicate how strongly they associate these elements with each other (indexing degrees of centrality). Participants also indicated how familiar they are with each person and each place (indexing degrees of knowledge), and how much they like them (indexing affective value). We combined centrality, familiarity, and liking to estimate the structure of participants’ unique affective representations. In a functional MRI session, participants then vividly simulated episodes of interacting with each person and place, which allowed us to estimate their individual neural representations. Preliminary analyses support our hypothesis (particularly for people): the structure of the neural representations in the mPFC indeed seems to reflect the structure of the estimated affective representations.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic