Multimodal integration and vividness in the angular gyrus during episodic encoding and retrieval

Tibon, R., Fuhrmann, D., Levy, D.A., Simons, J.S., & Henson, R.N. (2019). Journal of Neuroscience, 39, 4365-4374.

Much evidence suggests that the angular gyrus (AnG) is involved in episodic memory, but its precise role is yet to be determined. We examined two possible accounts, within the same experimental paradigm: the CoBRA account (Shimamura, 2011), which suggests that the AnG acts as a convergence zone that binds multimodal episodic features; and the Subjectivity account (Yazar et al., 2012), which implicates AnG involvement in subjective mnemonic experience (such as vividness or confidence). fMRI was employed during both encoding and retrieval of paired-associates. During study, female and male human participants memorised picture-pairs of common objects (in the unimodal task) or of an object-picture and an environmental sound (in the crossmodal task). At test, they performed a cued-recall task, and further indicated the vividness of their memory. During retrieval, BOLD activation in the AnG was greatest for vividly remembered associates, consistent with the Subjectivity account. During encoding, the same effect of vividness was found, but this was further modulated by task: Greater activations were associated with subsequent recall in the crossmodal than the unimodal task. Thus, encoding data suggests an additional role to the AnG in cross-modal integration, consistent with its role at retrieval proposed by CoBRA. These results resolve some of the puzzles in the literature and indicate that the AnG can play different roles during encoding and retrieval, determined by the cognitive demands posed by different mnemonic tasks.