Retrieval induces adaptive forgetting of competing memories via cortical pattern suppression

Wimber, M. , Alink, A., Charest, I., Kriegeskorte, N. and Anderson, M. C. (2015) Retrieval induces adaptive forgetting of competing memories via cortical pattern suppression. Nature Neuroscience, 18(4), pp. 582-589. (doi: 10.1038/nn.3973) (PMID:25774450) (PMCID:PMC4394359)

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Remembering a past experience can, surprisingly, cause forgetting. Forgetting arises when other competing traces interfere with retrieval and inhibitory control mechanisms are engaged to suppress the distraction they cause. This form of forgetting is considered to be adaptive because it reduces future interference. The effect of this proposed inhibition process on competing memories has, however, never been observed, as behavioral methods are 'blind' to retrieval dynamics and neuroimaging methods have not isolated retrieval of individual memories. We developed a canonical template tracking method to quantify the activation state of individual target memories and competitors during retrieval. This method revealed that repeatedly retrieving target memories suppressed cortical patterns unique to competitors. Pattern suppression was related to engagement of prefrontal regions that have been implicated in resolving retrieval competition and, critically, predicted later forgetting. Thus, our findings demonstrate a cortical pattern suppression mechanism through which remembering adaptively shapes which aspects of our past remain accessible.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kriegeskorte, Dr Nikolaus and Wimber, Professor Maria and Charest, Mr Ian
Authors: Wimber, M., Alink, A., Charest, I., Kriegeskorte, N., and Anderson, M. C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Nature Neuroscience
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):1546-1726
Published Online:16 March 2015

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