Remembering Outside the Box

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Science  03 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5936, pp. 40-41
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177156

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The prevailing view in memory research is that the mammalian brain is composed of a number of heterogeneous modules, each responsible for a different cognitive function, including different types of memory. An emerging alternative view, however, suggests that instead of such modules, the brain is organized in terms of the multipurpose representations that different regions support. As such, a given representation—and thus a given brain region—could be useful for many different functions. Evidence for this latter view has focused largely on demonstrating that regions within the putative memory system of the mammalian brain also play a role in another high-level function: perception (14). On page 87 of this issue, López-Aranda et al. (5) show that regions within the brain's putative perceptual system also play a role in memory, further solidifying evidence for a representational view of brain organization.