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Brains striving for coherence: Long-term cumulative plot formation in the default mode network

Tylén, Kristian; Christensen, Peer LU ; Roepstorff, Andreas; Lund, Torben; Østergaard, Svend and Donald, Merlin (2015) In NeuroImage 121. p.106-114
Abstract
Many everyday activities, such as engaging in conversation or listening to a story, require us to sustain attention over a prolonged period of time while integrating and synthesizing complex episodic content into a coherent mental model. Humans are remarkably capable of navigating and keeping track of all the parallel social activities of everyday life even when confronted with interruptions or changes in the environment. However, the underlying cognitive and neurocognitive mechanisms of such long-term integration and profiling of information remain a challenge to neuroscience. While brain activity is generally traceable within the short time frame of working memory (milliseconds to seconds), these integrative processes last for minutes,... (More)
Many everyday activities, such as engaging in conversation or listening to a story, require us to sustain attention over a prolonged period of time while integrating and synthesizing complex episodic content into a coherent mental model. Humans are remarkably capable of navigating and keeping track of all the parallel social activities of everyday life even when confronted with interruptions or changes in the environment. However, the underlying cognitive and neurocognitive mechanisms of such long-term integration and profiling of information remain a challenge to neuroscience. While brain activity is generally traceable within the short time frame of working memory (milliseconds to seconds), these integrative processes last for minutes, hours or even days. Here we report two experiments on story comprehension. Experiment I establishes a cognitive dissociation between our comprehension of plot and incidental facts in narratives: when episodic material allows for long-term integration in a coherent plot, we recall fewer factual details. However, when plot formation is challenged, we pay more attention to incidental facts. Experiment II investigates the neural underpinnings of plot formation. Results suggest a central role for the brain's default mode network related to comprehension of coherent narratives while incoherent episodes rather activate the frontoparietal control network. Moreover, an analysis of cortical activity as a function of the cumulative integration of narrative material into a coherent story reveals to linear modulations of right hemisphere posterior temporal and parietal regions. Together these findings point to key neural mechanisms involved in the fundamental human capacity for cumulative plot formation. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
fMRI, Default mode network, Memory, Narrative
in
NeuroImage
volume
121
pages
106 - 114
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • pmid:26216276
  • wos:000363122000010
  • scopus:84938701543
ISSN
1095-9572
DOI
10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.07.047
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
20ed868e-0a4f-4a96-91df-f48e2aea05a2 (old id 7764380)
date added to LUP
2015-08-26 14:20:24
date last changed
2017-10-01 03:10:01
@article{20ed868e-0a4f-4a96-91df-f48e2aea05a2,
  abstract     = {Many everyday activities, such as engaging in conversation or listening to a story, require us to sustain attention over a prolonged period of time while integrating and synthesizing complex episodic content into a coherent mental model. Humans are remarkably capable of navigating and keeping track of all the parallel social activities of everyday life even when confronted with interruptions or changes in the environment. However, the underlying cognitive and neurocognitive mechanisms of such long-term integration and profiling of information remain a challenge to neuroscience. While brain activity is generally traceable within the short time frame of working memory (milliseconds to seconds), these integrative processes last for minutes, hours or even days. Here we report two experiments on story comprehension. Experiment I establishes a cognitive dissociation between our comprehension of plot and incidental facts in narratives: when episodic material allows for long-term integration in a coherent plot, we recall fewer factual details. However, when plot formation is challenged, we pay more attention to incidental facts. Experiment II investigates the neural underpinnings of plot formation. Results suggest a central role for the brain's default mode network related to comprehension of coherent narratives while incoherent episodes rather activate the frontoparietal control network. Moreover, an analysis of cortical activity as a function of the cumulative integration of narrative material into a coherent story reveals to linear modulations of right hemisphere posterior temporal and parietal regions. Together these findings point to key neural mechanisms involved in the fundamental human capacity for cumulative plot formation.},
  author       = {Tylén, Kristian and Christensen, Peer and Roepstorff, Andreas and Lund, Torben and Østergaard, Svend and Donald, Merlin},
  issn         = {1095-9572},
  keyword      = {fMRI,Default mode network,Memory,Narrative},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {106--114},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {NeuroImage},
  title        = {Brains striving for coherence: Long-term cumulative plot formation in the default mode network},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.07.047},
  volume       = {121},
  year         = {2015},
}