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Keywords:

  • fMRI;
  • hippocampus;
  • episodic memory;
  • encoding;
  • retrieval

Abstract

Functional imaging studies frequently report that the hippocampus is engaged by successful episodic memory retrieval. However, considering that concurrent encoding of the background environment occurs during retrieval and influences medial temporal lobe activity, it is plausible that hippocampal encoding functions are reduced with increased attentional engagement during effortful retrieval. Expanding upon evidence that retrieval efforts suppress activity in hippocampal regions implicated in encoding, this study examines the influence of retrieval effort on encoding performance and the interactive effects of encoding and retrieval on hippocampal and neocortical activity. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was conducted while subjects performed a word recognition task with incidental picture encoding. Both lower memory strength and increased search duration were associated with encoding failure and reduced hippocampal and default network activity. Activity in the anterior hippocampus tracked encoding, which was more strongly deactivated when incidental encoding was unsuccessful. These findings highlight potential contributions from background encoding processes to hippocampal activations during neuroimaging studies of episodic memory retrieval. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.