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Poster E20

Prior Knowledge and Memory Encoding: Investigating the Influence of Congruency and Incongruency on Learning

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Salma Elnagar1 (, Nicholas Menghi1, Andrea Greve2, Christian Doeller1,3,4,5; 1Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany, 2MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, 3Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Center for Neural Computation, The Egil and Pauline Braathen and Fred Kavli Center for Cortical Microcircuits, Jebsen Center for Alzheimer’s Disease, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, 4Wilhelm Wundt Institute of Psychology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany, 5Department of Psychology, Technical University Dresden, Dresden, Germany

Several studies show that prior knowledge, such as schemas, strengthens encoding and accelerates recall of new memories that are in agreement with it (congruent), while others show the opposite pattern where prediction violation facilitates learning. To reconcile the contradictory findings in these two lines of research, a recent framework, the schema-linked interaction between the medial temporal and medial prefrontal regions (SLIMM), postulates that both highly congruent and highly incongruent information with a schema benefit the process of consolidation during learning. However, the SLIMM model remains under scrutiny since empirical evidence is scarce to support its hypotheses. Furthermore, the neural underpinnings of such learning processes remain unknown. While some models suggest a trade-off between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the medial temporal lobe (MTL) for congruent and incongruent effects respectively, other models predict an essential role of MTL structures in encoding information congruent to existing knowledge structures. We use behavioural methods and fMRI to understand whether and how the representation of prior knowledge enhance encoding and retrieval of new events. We developed a novel spatial schema paradigm, which compares three conditions of varying degrees of congruency to previous knowledge. Our results demonstrate a mnemonic advantage for congruent events, while incongruent events and those lacking a strong prior schema exhibit a disadvantage, suggesting that reaffirming expectations facilitates learning. In the concurrent fMRI study, we compare learning systems in the brain that support learning under certain and uncertain conditions and investigate the formation and update of schema representations with newly acquired information.

Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic


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April 13–16  |  2024