Integrity of the uncinate fasciculus is associated with emotional pattern separation-related fMRI signals in the hippocampal dentate and CA3

Steven J. Granger, Stephanie L. Leal, Myra Saraí Larson, John T. Janecek, Liv McMillan, Hal Stern, Michael A. Yassa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Alterations in white matter integrity have been demonstrated in a number of psychiatric disorders involving emotional disruptions. One such pathway – the uncinate fasciculus – connects the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) to the medial temporal lobes (MTL) and has been associated with early life adversity, maltreatment, anxiety, and depression. While it is purported to play a role in episodic memory and discrimination, its exact function remains poorly understood. We have previously described the role of the amygdala and dentate (DG)/CA3 fields of the hippocampus in the mnemonic discrimination of emotional experiences (i.e. emotional pattern separation). However, how this computation may be modulated by connectivity with the orbitofrontal cortex remains unknown. Here we asked if the uncinate fasciculus plays a role in influencing MTL subregional activity during emotional pattern separation. By combining diffusion imaging with high-resolution fMRI, we found that reduced integrity of the UF is related to elevated BOLD fMRI activation of the DG/CA3 subregions of the hippocampus during emotional lure discrimination. We additionally report that higher levels of DG/CA3 activity are associated with poorer memory performance, suggesting that greater activation in this network (possibly driven by CA3 recurrent collaterals) is associated with memory errors. Based on this work we suggest that the UF is one pathway that may allow the OFC to exert control on this network and improve discrimination of emotional experiences, although further work is necessary to fully evaluate this possibility. This work provides novel insight into the role of prefrontal interactions with the MTL, particularly in the context of emotional memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107359
Pages (from-to)107359
JournalNeurobiology of Learning and Memory
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Emotion
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Pattern separation
  • Uncinate fasciculus
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Emotions/physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Young Adult
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal/diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus/diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Uncinate Fasciculus/diagnostic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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