Differences in the neural signature of remembering schema-congruent and schema-incongruent events
New experiences are remembered in relation to one's existing world knowledge or schema. Recent research suggests that the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) supports the retrieval of schema-congruent information. However, the neural mechanisms supporting memory for information violating a schema have remained elusive, presumably because incongruity is inherently ambiguous in tasks that rely on world knowledge. We present a novel paradigm that experimentally induces hierarchically structured
... y structured knowledge to directly contrast neural correlates that contribute to the successful retrieval of schema-congruent versus schema-incongruent information. We hypothesize that remembering incongruent events engages source memory networks including the lateral PFC. In a sample of young adults, we observed enhanced activity in the dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC), in the posterior parietal cortex, and in the striatum when successfully retrieving incongruent events, along with enhanced connectivity between DLPFC and striatum. In addition, we found enhanced mPFC activity for successfully retrieved events that are congruent with the induced schema, presumably reflecting a role of the mPFC in biasing retrieval towards schema-congruent episodes. We conclude that medial and lateral PFC contributions to memory retrieval differ by schema congruency, and highlight the utility of the new experimental paradigm for addressing developmental research questions.