Distributed Representations in Memory: Insights from Functional Brain Imaging

Posted: 13 Jan 2012

See all articles by Jesse Rissman

Jesse Rissman

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Anthony D. Wagner

Stanford University - Psychology

Date Written: January 2012


Forging new memories for facts and events, holding critical details in mind on a moment-to-moment basis, and retrieving knowledge in the service of current goals all depend on a complex interplay between neural ensembles throughout the brain. Over the past decade, researchers have increasingly utilized powerful analytical tools (e.g., multivoxel pattern analysis) to decode the information represented within distributed functional magnetic resonance imaging activity patterns. In this review, we discuss how these methods can sensitively index neural representations of perceptual and semantic content and how leverage on the engagement of distributed representations provides unique insights into distinct aspects of memory-guided behavior. We emphasize that, in addition to characterizing the contents of memories, analyses of distributed patterns shed light on the processes that influence how information is encoded, maintained, or retrieved, and thus inform memory theory. We conclude by highlighting open questions about memory that can be addressed through distributed pattern analyses.

Suggested Citation

Rissman, Jesse and Wagner, Anthony D., Distributed Representations in Memory: Insights from Functional Brain Imaging (January 2012). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 63, pp. 101-128, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1982952 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100344

Jesse Rissman (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361
Los Angeles, CA 90095
United States

Anthony D. Wagner

Stanford University - Psychology ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States
(650) 723-4048 (Phone)
(650) 725-5699 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: https://psychology.stanford.edu/awagner

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