Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
We examined the neurobiological basis of temporal resetting, an aspect of temporal order memory, using a version of the delayed-match-to-multiple-sample task. While in an fMRI scanner, participants evaluated whether an item was novel or whether it had appeared before or after a reset event that signified the start of a new block of trials. Participants responded “old” to items that were repeated within the current block and “new” to both novel items and items that had last appeared before the reset event (pseudonew items). Medial-temporal, prefrontal, and occipital regions responded to absolute novelty of the stimulus—they differentiated between novel items and previously seen items, but not between old and pseudonew items. Activation for pseudonew items in the frontopolar and parietal regions, in contrast, was intermediate between old and new items. The posterior cingulate cortex extending to precuneus was the only region that showed complete temporal resetting, and its activation reflected whether an item was new or old according to the task instructions regardless of its familiarity. There was also a significant Condition (old/pseudonew) × Familiarity (second/third presentations) interaction effect on behavioral and neural measures. For pseudonew items, greater familiarity decreased response accuracy, increased RTs, increased ACC activation, and increased functional connectivity between ACC and the left frontal pole. The reverse was observed for old items. On the basis of these results, we propose a theoretical framework in which temporal resetting relies on an episodic retrieval network that is modulated by cognitive control and conflict resolution.