Neural correlates of episodic memory modulated by temporally delayed rewards

Jungsun Yoo, Seokyoung Min, Seung Koo Lee, Sanghoon Han

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1 Citation (Scopus)


When a stimulus is associated with an external reward, its chance of being consolidated into long-term memory is boosted via dopaminergic facilitation of long-term potentiation in the hippocampus. Given that higher temporal distance (TD) has been found to discount the subjective value of a reward, we hypothesized that memory performance associated with a more immediate reward will result in better memory performance. We tested this hypothesis by measuring both behavioral memory performance and brain activation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during memory encoding and retrieval tasks. Contrary to our hypothesis, both behavioral and fMRI results suggest that the TD of rewards might enhance the chance of the associated stimulus being remembered. The fMRI data demonstrate that the lateral prefrontal cortex, which shows encoding-related activation proportional to the TD, is reactivated when searching for regions that show activation proportional to the TD during retrieval. This is not surprising given that this region is not only activated to discriminate between future vs. immediate rewards, it is also a part of the retrieval-success network. These results provide support for the conclusion that the encoding-retrieval overlap provoked as the rewards are more delayed may lead to better memory performance of the items associated with the rewards.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0249290
JournalPloS one
Issue number4 April
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Yoo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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