Poster C68, Sunday, March 25, 1:00-3:00 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Comparing and contrasting the neural mechanisms of autobiographical memory and problem solving
Sarah L. Peters1, Carina L. Fan1; 1McGill University
Emerging research has indicated that the neural processes that support autobiographical memory retrieval are also recruited during open-ended forms of goal-oriented behaviour, such as solving personal problems. The majority of this research has focused on how the hippocampus similarly supports retrieving detailed memory and solution representations (an elaboration form of retrieval). However, in the real world, memories and solutions are not always retrieved at this level of detail. In many cases, multiple related memories or relevant solutions must be brought to mind (a generation form of retrieval). Here, we investigated the similarities and differences in the neural overlap between autobiographical memory and problem solving as a function of these two retrieval forms. In a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study, young participants viewed memory and problem solving cues. To each cue, they generated multiple exemplars (generation) and then elaborated on one exemplar in detail (elaboration). Using multivariate analysis (Partial Least Squares), we found that neural activity dissociated between the generation and elaboration forms of retrieval across tasks, such that generation was commonly associated with anterior cortical activity and elaboration with posterior cortical activity. This dissociation was also evident within the hippocampus, which showed an anterior to posterior shift from generation to elaboration. Overall, these results indicate that common retrieval demands drive neural overlap between higher cognitive tasks like autobiographical memory and problem solving.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic