Immediate memory for "when, where and what": Short-delay retrieval using dynamic naturalistic material

Sze Chai Kwok, Emiliano Macaluso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the neural correlates supporting three kinds of memory judgments after very short delays using naturalistic material. In two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments, subjects watched short movie clips, and after a short retention (1.5-2.5 s), made mnemonic judgments about specific aspects of the clips. In Experiment 1, subjects were presented with two scenes and required to either choose the scene that happened earlier in the clip ("scene-chronology"), or with a correct spatial arrangement ("scene-layout"), or that had been shown ("scene-recognition"). To segregate activity specific to seen versus unseen stimuli, in Experiment 2 only one probe image was presented (either target or foil). Across the two experiments, we replicated three patterns underlying the three specific forms of memory judgment. The precuneus was activated during temporal-order retrieval, the superior parietal cortex was activated bilaterally for spatial-related configuration judgments, whereas the medial frontal cortex during scene recognition. Conjunction analyses with a previous study that used analogous retrieval tasks, but a much longer delay (>1 day), demonstrated that this dissociation pattern is independent of retention delay. We conclude that analogous brain regions mediate task-specific retrieval across vastly different delays, consistent with the proposal of scale-invariance in episodic memory retrieval.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2495-2513
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2015


  • "what-where-when" tripartite pattern
  • Cinematic material
  • Scale-invariance
  • Short-/long-delays

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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