Trends Cogn Sci 2007 May 26;11(5):219-27. Epub 2007 Mar 26.
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Box 90999, LSRC Building, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
Functional neuroimaging studies of autobiographical memory have grown dramatically in recent years. These studies are important because they can investigate the neural correlates of processes that are difficult to study using laboratory stimuli, including: (i) complex constructive processes, (ii) recollective qualities of emotion and vividness, and (iii) remote memory retrieval. Constructing autobiographical memories involves search, monitoring and self-referential processes that are associated with activity in separable prefrontal regions. The contributions of emotion and vividness have been linked to the amygdala and visual cortex respectively. Finally, there is evidence that recent and remote autobiographical memories might activate the hippocampus equally, which has implications for memory-consolidation theories. The rapid development of innovative methods for eliciting personal memories in the scanner provides the opportunity to delve into the functional neuroanatomy of our personal past.