Predicting Memories

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Science  08 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5557, pp. 931
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5557.931a

In the human brain, the medial temporal lobe is implicated in memory formation. The precise contribution of its different structures to memory formation, however, has been the subject of much controversy.

Strange et al. optimized functional magnetic resonance imaging for the scanning of the medial temporal lobe during a verbal encoding task. The activation strength of the left perirhinal cortex and the left hippocampal body during the task was significantly greater for words that the person subsequently remembered versus those that were forgotten, confirming earlier electrophysiological data obtained from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. In the right anterior hippocampal, bilateral parahippocampal, and posterior fusiform gyrus regions, activation was observed that predicted subsequent memory for the initial two words of a list but not for later words. This phenomenon, the primacy effect, has been attributed to greater rehearsal or to the relative distinctiveness of initial items. These findings support a role for anterior hippocampal, parahippocampal, and posterior fusiform activation in the processing of novelty and distinctiveness. — PRS

J. Neurosci.22, 523 (2002).

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