Brain mechanisms underlying the subjective experience of remembering

Simons, J.S., Ritchey, M., & Fernyhough, C. (2022). Annual Review of Psychology, 73, 159-186.

The ability to remember events in vivid, multisensory detail is a significant part of human experience, allowing us to relive previous encounters and providing us with the store of memories that shape our identity. Recent research has sought to understand the subjective experience of remembering, that is, what it feels like to have a memory. Such remembering involves reactivating sensory-perceptual features of an event and the thoughts and feelings we had when the event occurred, integrating them into a conscious first-person experience. It allows us to reflect on the content of our memories, and to understand and make judgments about them, such as distinguishing events that actually occurred from those we might have imagined or been told about. In this review, we consider recent evidence from functional neuroimaging in healthy participants and studies of neurological and psychiatric conditions, which is shedding new light on how we subjectively experience remembering.