Building Memories: Remembering and Forgetting of Verbal Experiences as Predicted by Brain Activity

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Science  21 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5380, pp. 1188-1191
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5380.1188

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A fundamental question about human memory is why some experiences are remembered whereas others are forgotten. Brain activation during word encoding was measured using blocked and event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine how neural activation differs for subsequently remembered and subsequently forgotten experiences. Results revealed that the ability to later remember a verbal experience is predicted by the magnitude of activation in left prefrontal and temporal cortices during that experience. These findings provide direct evidence that left prefrontal and temporal regions jointly promote memory formation for verbalizable events.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: adwagner{at}

  • Permanent address: Otto v. Guericke University, Neurology II, Magdeburg D-39120, Germany.

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