Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Selective and coherent activity increases due to stimulation indicate functional distinctions between episodic memory networks

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Science Advances  22 Aug 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 8, eaar2768
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar2768


Posterior-medial and anterior-temporal cortical networks interact with the hippocampus and are thought to distinctly support episodic memory. We causally tested this putative distinction by determining whether targeted noninvasive stimulation could selectively affect neural signals of memory formation within the posterior-medial network. Stimulation enhanced the posterior-medial network’s evoked response to stimuli during memory formation, and this activity increase was coherent throughout the network. In contrast, there was no increase in anterior-temporal network activity due to stimulation. In addition, control stimulation of an out-of-network prefrontal cortex location in a separate group of subjects did not influence memory-related activity in either network. The posterior-medial network is therefore a functional unit for memory processing that is distinct from the anterior-temporal network. These findings suggest that targeted stimulation can lead to network-specific increases in excitability during memory formation and hold promise for efforts to fine-tune network involvement in episodic memory via brain stimulation.

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