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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

January 2020, Vol. 32, No. 1, Pages 50-64
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01468)
© 2019 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.
Tracking Your Mind's Eye during Recollection: Decoding the Long-Term Recall of Short Audiovisual Clips
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Unlike familiarity, recollection involves the ability to reconstruct mentally previous events that results in a strong sense of reliving. According to the reinstatement hypothesis, this specific feature emerges from the reactivation of cortical patterns involved during information exposure. Over time, the retrieval of specific details becomes more difficult, and memories become increasingly supported by familiarity judgments. The multiple trace theory (MTT) explains the gradual loss of episodic details by a transformation in the memory representation, a view that is not shared by the standard consolidation model. In this study, we tested the MTT in light of the reinstatement hypothesis. The temporal dynamics of mental imagery from long-term memory were investigated and tracked over the passage of time. Participant EEG activity was recorded during the recall of short audiovisual clips that had been watched 3 weeks, 1 day, or a few hours beforehand. The recall of the audiovisual clips was assessed using a Remember/Know/New procedure, and snapshots of clips were used as recall cues. The decoding matrices obtained from the multivariate pattern analyses revealed sustained patterns that occurred at long latencies (>500 msec poststimulus onset) that faded away over the retention intervals and that emerged from the same neural processes. Overall, our data provide further evidence toward the MTT and give new insights into the exploration of our “mind's eye.”