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An engram of intentionally forgotten information

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Ten Oever,  Sanne
Language and Computation in Neural Systems, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
FC Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging , External Organizations;
Maastricht University;

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Ten Oever, S., Sack, A. T., Oehrn, C. R., & Axmacher, N. (2021). An engram of intentionally forgotten information. Nature Communications, 12: 6443. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-26713-x.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-7AF8-7
Abstract
Successful forgetting of unwanted memories is crucial for goal-directed behavior and mental wellbeing. While memory retention strengthens memory traces, it is unclear what happens to memory traces of events that are actively forgotten. Using intracranial EEG recordings from lateral temporal cortex, we find that memory traces for actively forgotten information are partially preserved and exhibit unique neural signatures. Memory traces of successfully remembered items show stronger encoding-retrieval similarity in gamma frequency patterns. By contrast, encoding-retrieval similarity of item-specific memory traces of actively forgotten items depend on activity at alpha/beta frequencies commonly associated with functional inhibition. Additional analyses revealed selective modification of item-specific patterns of connectivity and top-down information flow from dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to lateral temporal cortex in memory traces of intentionally forgotten items. These results suggest that intentional forgetting relies more on inhibitory top-down connections than intentional remembering, resulting in inhibitory memory traces with unique neural signatures and representational formats.