The shared and unique neural correlates of personal semantic, general semantic, and episodic memory

Annick F. N. Tanguay, Daniela J. Palombo, Brittany Love, Rafael Glikstein, Patrick S. R. Davidson, Louis Renoult

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


One of the most common distinctions in long-term memory is that between semantic (i.e., general world knowledge) and episodic (i.e., recollection of contextually-specific events from one’s past). However, emerging cognitive neuroscience data suggest a surprisingly large overlap between the neural correlates of semantic and episodic memory. Moreover, personal semantic memories (i.e., knowledge about the self and one’s life) have been studied little and do not easily fit into the standard semantic-episodic dichotomy. Here we used fMRI to record brain activity while 48 participants verified statements concerning general facts, autobiographical facts, repeated events, and unique events. In multivariate analysis, all four types of memory involved activity within a common network bilaterally (e.g., frontal pole, paracingulate gyrus, medial frontal cortex, middle/superior temporal gyrus, precuneus, posterior cingulate, angular gyrus) and some areas of the medial temporal lobe. Yet the four memory types differentially engaged this network, increasing in activity from general to autobiographical facts, from autobiographical facts to repeated events, and from repeated to unique events. Our data are compatible with a component process model, in which declarative memory types rely on different weightings of the same elementary processes, such as perceptual imagery, spatial features, and self-reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere83645
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2023

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