Siestrup et al. (2022)

Siestrup, S., Jainta., B., El-Sourani, N., Trempler, I., Wurm, M. F., Wolf, O. T., Cheng, S., & Schubotz, R. I. (2022) What happened when? Cerebral processing of modified structure and content in episodic cueing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 34(7):1287-1305.

Episodic memories are not static but can change on the basis of new experiences, potentially allowing us to make valid predictions in the face of an ever-changing environment. Recent research has identified prediction errors during memory retrieval as a possible trigger for such changes. In this study, we used modified episodic cues to investigate whether different types of mnemonic prediction errors modulate brain activity and subsequent memory performance. Participants encoded episodes that consisted of short toy stories. During a subsequent fMRI session, participants were presented videos showing the original episodes, or slightly modified versions thereof. In modified videos, either the order of two subsequent action steps was changed or an object was exchanged for another. Content modifications recruited parietal, temporo-occipital, and parahippocampal areas reflecting the processing of the new object information. In contrast, structure modifications elicited activation in right dorsal premotor, posterior temporal, and parietal areas, reflecting the processing of new sequence information. In a post-fMRI memory test, the participants’ tendency to accept modified episodes as originally encoded increased significantly when they had been presented modified versions already during the fMRI session. After experiencing modifications, especially those of the episodes’ structure, the recognition of originally encoded episodes was impaired as well. Our study sheds light onto the neural processing of different types of episodic prediction errors and their influence on subsequent memory recall.

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