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The role of the pre-commissural fornix in episodic autobiographical memory and simulation

Williams, Angharad N. ORCID:, Ridgeway, Samuel, Postans, Mark, Graham, Kim S. ORCID:, Lawrence, Andrew ORCID: and Hodgetts, Carl J. ORCID: 2020. The role of the pre-commissural fornix in episodic autobiographical memory and simulation. Neuropsychologia 142 , Volume 142, May 2020, 107457. 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2020.107457

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Neuropsychological and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evidence suggests that the ability to vividly remember our personal past, and imagine future scenarios, involves two closely connected regions: the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Despite evidence of a direct anatomical connection from hippocampus to vmPFC, it is unknown whether hippocampal-vmPFC structural connectivity supports both past and future-oriented episodic thinking. To address this, we applied diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) and a novel deterministic tractography protocol to reconstruct distinct subdivisions of the fornix previously detected in axonal tracer studies, namely pre-commissural (connecting the hippocampus to vmPFC) and post-commissural (linking the hippocampus and medial diencephalon) fornix, in a group of healthy young adult humans who undertook an adapted past-future autobiographical interview (portions of this data were published in Hodgetts et al., 2017). As predicted, we found that inter-individual differences in pre-commissural - but not post-commissural - fornix microstructure (fractional anisotropy) were significantly correlated with the episodic richness of both past and future autobiographical narratives. Notably, these results remained significant when controlling for non-episodic narrative content, verbal fluency, and grey matter volumes of the hippocampus and vmPFC. This study provides novel evidence that reconstructing events from one's personal past, and constructing possible future events, involves a distinct, structurally-instantiated hippocampal-vmPFC pathway.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0028-3932
Funders: Wellcome Trust, MRC, ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 April 2020
Date of Acceptance: 30 March 2020
Last Modified: 09 May 2023 22:12

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