Repetition and the passage of time influence the consolidation of long-term episodic memories. The experiments presented here have explored the influence of repetition on recent and remote autobiographical memories both behaviorally with regard to qualitative and quantitative measures of content, and neuroanatomically, focusing on changes within the hippocampus and adjacent structures.
The first experiment tested the prediction made by MTT that hippocampal memory traces expand and strengthen as a function of repeated memory retrievals. An fMRI paradigm was used to compare the effect of memory retrieval versus the mere passage of time on hippocampal activation. Participants retrieved remote autobiographical memories that had been previously retrieved either one month earlier, two days earlier, or multiple times during the preceding month. Behavioral analyses revealed that the number and consistency of memory details retrieved increased with multiple retrievals but not with the passage of time. Hippocampal activation did not change as a function of either multiple retrievals or the passage of time.
The second behavioral investigation was a follow-up to the first experiment, examining the retrieval of those same memories one year later in order to determine whether the level of detail remained stable or whether the memories returned to their original state. Participants reported even more details than they had recalled at least one year earlier, including new details. This finding was consistent across both multiple and single retrieval conditions. These findings together with those of the first study suggest that both repetition and the passage of time are important factors that may result in an increase in recall.
The third and final experiment explored the behavioral and neural influences of repeated reactivation of both recent and remote autobiographical memories. Participants were interviewed a total of five times throughout one month and retrieved 20 significant life event memories, from either within the past several months or more than five years ago. Additionally, two fMRI scan sessions were collected, which enabled a direct comparison of the same 20 memories before and after a series of repetitions. Activation increased with repetition in several brain regions including bilateral posterior cingulate and precuneus. Behaviorally, repetition resulted in increased accessibility as suggested by decreased reaction times between the initial and final retrieval sessions, and a general maintenance of the level of recall resulted with repetition.
|Commitee:||Barnes, Carol, Glisky, Betty, Ryan, Lee|
|School:||The University of Arizona|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-B 70/07, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Neurosciences, Cognitive psychology|
|Keywords:||Autobiographical memory, Consolidation, Episodic memory, Human long-term memory, Memory, Reconsolidation, Repetition|
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