Understanding the neural correlates of repetitive retrieval of emotional events is critical in addressing pathological emotional processing, as repeated processing is central for a number of different therapeutic interventions. In the current study, single-trial functional brain activity was assessed in key regions implicated in episodic retrieval, including the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), anterior hippocampus, posterior hippocampus, and the posteromedial parietal cortex (i.e., posterior cingulate cortex and the precuneus) following repeated retrieval of pleasant and unpleasant autobiographical events. Replicating previous studies, repetition prompted reduced blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) amplitude in the anterior hippocampus and the mPFC, but not in the posterior hippocampus, due to no functional activity during mental imagery, or in the posteromedial parietal cortex, due to enhanced activation that was sustained across repetitions. Neural activation during pleasant and unpleasant autobiographical retrieval did not differ as a function of repetition, indicating similar processing effects regardless of motivational relevance. Taken together, the hedonic valence of retrieved memories does not affect functional activity associated with repeated retrieval of episodic events, in which the pattern of BOLD amplitude change suggests a dissociation between the hippocampal-prefrontal circuit, which shows repetition suppression, and the posteromedial parietal cortex, which shows sustained activation.
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