Making Memories: Brain Activity that Predicts How Well Visual Experience Will Be Remembered

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Science  21 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5380, pp. 1185-1187
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5380.1185

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Experiences are remembered or forgotten, but the neural determinants for the mnemonic fate of experience are unknown. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to identify specific brain activations that differentiated between visual experiences that were later remembered well, remembered less well, or forgotten. During scanning of medial temporal lobe and frontal lobe regions, subjects viewed complex, color photographs. Subjects later received a test of memory for the photographs. The magnitudes of focal activations in right prefrontal cortex and in bilateral parahippocampal cortex predicted which photographs were later remembered well, remembered less well, or forgotten.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed at Neuroscience Program, Building 420 Jordan Hall, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. E-mail: brewer{at}

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