Reinstatement of associative memories in early visual cortex is signaled by the hippocampus


The cortical reinstatement hypothesis of memory retrieval posits that content-specific cortical activity at encoding is reinstated at retrieval. Evidence for cortical reinstatement was found in higher-order sensory regions, reflecting reactivation of complex object-based information. However, it remains unclear whether the same detailed sensory, feature-based information perceived during encoding is subsequently reinstated in early sensory cortex and what the role of the hippocampus is in this process. In this study, we used a combination of visual psychophysics, functional neuroimaging, multivoxel pattern analysis, and a well controlled cued recall paradigm to address this issue. We found that the visual information human participants were retrieving could be predicted by the activation patterns in early visual cortex. Importantly, this reinstatement resembled the neural pattern elicited when participants viewed the visual stimuli passively, indicating shared representations between stimulus-driven activity and memory. Furthermore, hippocampal activity covaried with the strength of stimulus-specific cortical reinstatement on a trial-by-trial level during cued recall. These findings provide evidence for reinstatement of unique associative memories in early visual cortex and suggest that the hippocampus modulates the mnemonic strength of this reinstatement.

Journal of Neuroscience