Multimodal imaging reveals the spatiotemporal dynamics of recollection

Bergström, Z.M., Henson, R.N., Taylor, J.R., & Simons, J.S. (2013). NeuroImage, 68, 141-153.

Functional MRI research suggests that different frontal and parietal cortical regions support strategic processes that are engaged at different stages of recollection, from pre-retrieval processing of a cue to post-retrieval maintenance and evaluation of recollected information. Whereas some of these regions respond in a domain-general way, other regions are sensitive to the type of information being recollected. However, the low temporal resolution of fMRI cannot distinguish component processes at the time-scale at which recollection occurs. We therefore combined fMRI with the excellent temporal resolution of source localised EEG/MEG to investigate the spatiotemporal neural dynamics of recollection. fMRI and EEG/MEG data were collected from the same participants in two sessions while they retrieved different types of episodic information. This multimodal imaging approach revealed striking consistency between the regions identified with fMRI and EEG/MEG, providing novel evidence of how these brain areas interact over time to support source recollection. For domain-general recollection, results from both modalities converged in showing the strongest activations in medial parietal cortex, which according to EEG/MEG was reliable at a late retrieval stage. Domain-specific source recollection increased fMRI and EEG/MEG activation in the left lateral prefrontal cortex, which EEG/MEG indicated also to be recruited during a post-recollection stage. The findings suggest that although medial parietal and left lateral prefrontal regions mediate functionally different retrieval processes, they are both engaged at a late stage of episodic retrieval.