Associative encoding and retrieval are predicted by functional connectivity in distinct hippocampal area CA1 pathways

Katherine Duncan, Alexa Tompary, Lila Davachi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Determining how the hippocampus supports the unique demands of memory encoding and retrieval is fundamental for understanding the biological basis of episodic memory. One possibility proposed by theoretical models is that the distinct computational demands of encoding and retrieval are accommodated by shifts in the functional interaction between the hippocampal CA1 subregion and its input structures. However, empirical tests of this hypothesis are lacking. To test this in humans, we used high-resolution fMRI to measure functional connectivity between hippocampal area CA1 and regions of the medial temporal lobe and midbrain during extended blocks of associative encoding and retrieval tasks. We found evidence for a double dissociation between the pathways supporting successful encoding and retrieval. Specifically, during the associative encoding task, but not the retrieval task, functional connectivity only between area CA1 and the ventral tegmental area predicted associative long-term memory. In contrast, connectivity between area CA1 and DG/CA3 was greater, on average, during the retrieval task compared with the encoding task, and, importantly, the strength of this connectivity significantly correlated with retrieval success. Together, these findings serve as an important first step toward understanding how the demands of fundamental memory processes may be met by changes in the relative strength of connectivity within hippocampal pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11188-11198
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 20 2014


  • CA1
  • CA3
  • Functional connectivity
  • High-resolution fMRI
  • Hippocampus
  • VTA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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