Jessica K. Stanek, Ph.D.
Expectation Modulates Episodic Memory Formation via Dopaminergic Circuitry
The present findings demonstrated that novelty and expectancy violation both drive dopaminergic circuitry capable of contributing to memory formation. Consistent with elevated dopaminergic midbrain and hippocampus activation for each, expected versus expectancy violating novelty did not differentially impact memory success. We also showed that high curiosity expectancy states drive memory formation. This was supported by activation in dopaminergic circuitry that was greater for subsequently remembered information only in the high curiosity state. Finally, we showed that cues that generate high expected reward value versus high reward uncertainty differentially modulate memory formation during reward anticipation. This behavioral result was consistent with distinct temporal profiles of dopaminergic action having differential downstream effects on episodic memory formation.
Integrating the present studies with previous research suggests that dopaminergic circuitry signals events that are unpredicted, whether cuing or resolving expectations. It also suggests that contextual differences change the contribution of the dopaminergic system during anticipation, depending on the nature of the expectation. And finally, this work is consistent with a model in which dopamine elevation in response to expectancy events positively modulates episodic memory formation.