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Neuron. 2002 Aug 29;35(5):989-96.

Executive control during episodic retrieval: multiple prefrontal processes subserve source memory.

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  • 1Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, MGH/MIT/HMS, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


During recognition, one may sense items as familiar (item memory) and additionally recollect specific contextual details of the earlier encounters (source memory). Cognitive theory suggests that, unlike item memory, source memory requires controlled cue specification and monitoring processes. Functional imaging suggests that such processes may depend on left prefrontal cortex (PFC). However, the nature and possible anatomical segregation of these processes remains unknown. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we isolated distinct response patterns in left PFC during source memory consistent with semantic analysis/cue specification (anterior ventrolateral), recollective monitoring (posterior dorsolateral and frontopolar), and phonological maintenance/rehearsal (posterior ventrolateral). Importantly, cue specification and recollective monitoring responses were not seen during item memory and were unaffected by retrieval success, demonstrating that the mere attempt to recollect episodic detail engages multiple control processes with different left PFC substrates.

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