Reality monitoring is defined as the ability to distinguish internally self-generated information from externally-derived information. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is a key brain region subserving reality monitoring and has been shown to be activated specifically during the retrieval of self-generated information. However, it is unclear if mPFC is activated during the encoding of self-generated information into memory. If so, it is important to understand whether successful retrieval of self-generated information critically depends on enhanced neural activity within mPFC during initial encoding of this self-generated information. We used magnetoencephalographic imaging (MEGI) to determine the timing and location of cortical activity during a reality-monitoring task involving self generated contextual source memory encoding and retrieval. We found both during encoding and retrieval of self-generated information, when compared to externally-derived information, mPFC showed significant task induced oscillatory power modulation in the beta-band. During initial encoding of self-generated information, greater mPFC beta-band power reductions occurred within a time window of −700 ms to −500 ms prior to vocalization. This increased activity in mPFC was not observed during encoding of externally-derived information. Additionally, increased mPFC activity during encoding of self-generated information predicted subsequent retrieval accuracy of this self-generated information. Beta-band activity in mPFC was also observed during the initial retrieval of self-generated information within a time window of 300 to 500 ms following stimulus onset and correlated with accurate retrieval performance of self-generated information. Together, these results further highlight the importance of mPFC in mediating the initial generation and awareness of participants’ internal thoughts.
Subramaniam, K., Hinkley, L. B. N., Mizuiri, D., Kothare, H., Cai, C., Garrett, C., … Nagarajan, S. S. (2019). Beta-band activity in medial prefrontal cortex predicts source memory encoding and retrieval accuracy. Scientific Reports, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-43291-7