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Poster C18

Is mental visuospatial imagery essential for episodic autobiographical memory?

Poster Session C - Sunday, April 14, 2024, 5:00 – 7:00 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Cornelia McCormick1 (; 1University Hospital Bonn

For most of us, recalling detailed, episodic autobiographical memories (AM) conjures up vivid visuospatial scene imagery in front of our mind’s eye. However, little is known about whether visuospatial scene imagery is essential for episodic AM retrieval. Furthermore, the hippocampus has been implicated to support both cognitive processes, making it difficult to disentangle its precise contributions to each one. Here, I will present the results of a three projects of my group examining this intricate relationship. First, I will present behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from individuals with aphantasia suggesting that diminished abilities to construct mental scenes result in less detailed, less confident, and less emotional AM retrieval which is reflected neurally by an altered functional connectivity between the hippocampus and visual-perceptual cortices. Second, I will present high-field 7 Tesla fMRI data from young healthy participants during an AM task. These data illuminate that one specific hippocampal subfield, i.e., the pre- and parasubiculum maybe especially important for scene-based cognition and that this subfield is strongly connected to brain network typically associated with AM retrieval. Third, I will present an additional 7 Tesla fMRI dataset showing that the hippocampus is more involved when one single scene is being imagined whereas the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is more involved when an extended event is being imagined. In sum, I present multiple datasets indicating that the hippocampus is crucial for the construction of vivid visuospatial mental scenes and that these are essential for detail-rich, episodic AM retrieval.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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April 13–16  |  2024