Consolidation and Retrieval of Memory
Competitive trace theory: a role for the hippocampus in contextual interference during retrieval
Much controversy exists regarding the role of the hippocampus in retrieval. The two dominant and competing accounts have been the Standard Model of Systems Consolidation (SMSC) and Multiple Trace Theory (MTT), which specifically make opposing predictions as to the necessity of the hippocampus for retrieval of remote memories. Under SMSC, memories eventually become independent of the hippocampus as they become more reliant on cortical connectivity, and thus the hippocampus is not required for retrieval of remote memories, only recent ones. MTT on the other hand claims that the hippocampus is always required no matter the age of the memory. We argue that this dissociation may be too simplistic, and a continuum model may be better suited to address the role of the hippocampus in retrieval of remote memories. Such a model is presented here with the main function of the hippocampus during retrieval being “recontextualization,” or the reconstruction of memory using overlapping traces. As memories get older, they are decontextualized due to competition among partially overlapping traces and become more semantic and reliant on neocortical storage. In this framework dubbed the Competitive Trace Theory (CTT), consolidation events that lead to the strengthening of memories enhance conceptual knowledge (semantic memory) at the expense of contextual details (episodic memory). As a result, remote memories are more likely to have a stronger semantic representation. At the same time, remote memories are also more likely to include illusory details. The CTT is a novel candidate model that may provide some resolution to the memory consolidation debate. [Yassa & Reagh (2013). Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7:107, 1-13.]
Functional neuroanatomy of remote episodic, semantic and spatial memory: a unified account based on multiple trace theory
We review lesion and neuroimaging evidence on the role of the hippocampus, and other structures, in retention and retrieval of recent and remote memories. We examine episodic, semantic and spatial memory, and show that important distinctions exist among different types of these memories and the structures that mediate them. We argue that retention and retrieval of detailed, vivid autobiographical memories depend on the hippocampal system no matter how long ago they were acquired. Semantic memories, on the other hand, benefit from hippocampal contribution for some time before they can be retrieved independently of the hippocampus. Even semantic memories, however, can have episodic elements associated with them that continue to depend on the hippocampus. Likewise, we distinguish between experientially detailed spatial memories (akin to episodic memory) and more schematic memories (akin to semantic memory) that are sufficient for navigation but not for re-experiencing the environment in which they were acquired. Like their episodic and semantic counterparts, the former type of spatial memory is dependent on the hippocampus no matter how long ago it was acquired, whereas the latter can survive independently of the hippocampus and is represented in extra-hippocampal structures. In short, the evidence reviewed suggests strongly that the function of the hippocampus (and possibly that of related limbic structures) is to help encode, retain, and retrieve experiences, no matter how long ago the events comprising the experience occurred, and no matter whether the memories are episodic or spatial. We conclude that the evidence favours a multiple trace theory (MTT) of memory over two other models: (1) traditional consolidation models which posit that the hippocampus is a time-limited memory structure for all forms of memory; and (2) versions of cognitive map theory which posit that the hippocampus is needed for representing all forms of allocentric space in memory. [Moscovitch, et al. (2005). Journal of Anatomy, 207(1): 35-66.]
Memory and the hippocampus: A synthesis from findings with rats, monkeys, and humans.
Considers the role of the hippocampus in memory function. A central thesis is that work with rats, monkeys, and humans (which has sometimes seemed to proceed independently in 3 separate literatures) is now largely in agreement about the function of the hippocampus and related structures. A biological perspective is presented that proposes multiple memory systems with different functions and distinct anatomical organizations. The hippocampus (together with anatomically related structures) is essential for a specific kind of memory, here termed declarative memory (similar terms include explicit and relational). Declarative memory is contrasted with a heterogeneous collection of nondeclarative (implicit) memory abilities that do not require the hippocampus (skills and habits, simple conditioning, and the phenomenon of priming). The hippocampus is needed temporarily to bind together distributed sites in neocortex that together represent a whole memory. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved). [Squire (1992). Psychological Review, 99(2): 195-231]