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Schema representations in distinct brain networks support narrative memory during encoding and retrieval

By Rolando Masís-Obando, Kenneth A. Norman, Christopher A Baldassano

Posted 17 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.17.444363

Schematic prior knowledge can scaffold the construction of event memories during perception and also provide structured cues to guide memory search during retrieval. We measured the activation of story-specific and schematic representations using fMRI while participants were presented with 16 stories and then recalled each of the narratives, and related these activations to memory for specific story details. We predicted that schema representations in mPFC would be correlated with successful recall of story details. In keeping with this prediction, an anterior mPFC region showed a significant correlation between activation of schema representations at encoding and subsequent behavioral recall performance; however, this mPFC region was not implicated in schema representation during retrieval. More generally, our analyses revealed largely distinct brain networks at encoding and retrieval in which schema activation was related to successful recall. These results provide new insight into when and where event knowledge can support narrative memory.

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