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Neuropsychologia. 2010 Sep;48(11):3351-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.07.025. Epub 2010 Aug 1.

Activity in the hippocampus and neocortical working memory regions predicts successful associative memory for temporally discontiguous events.

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  • 1Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA.


Models of mnemonic function suggest that the hippocampus binds temporally discontiguous events in memory (Wallenstein, Eichenbaum, & Hasselmo, 1998), which has been supported by recent studies in humans. Less is known, however, about the involvement of working memory in bridging the temporal gap between to-be-associated events. In this study, subsequent memory for associations between temporally discontiguous stimuli was examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging. In the scanner, subjects were instructed to remember sequentially presented images. Occasionally, a plus-sign was presented during the interstimulus interval between two images, instructing subjects to associate the two images as a pair. Following the scan, subjects identified remembered images and their pairs. Images following the plus-sign were separated into trials in which items were later recognized and the pair remembered, recognized and the pair forgotten, or not recognized. Blood-oxygen-level-dependent responses were measured to identify regions where response amplitude predicted subsequent associative- or item memory. Distinct neocortical regions were involved in each memory condition, where activity in bilateral frontal and parietal regions predicted memory for associative information and bilateral occipital and medial frontal regions for item information. While activity in posterior regions of the medial temporal lobe showed an intermediate response predicting memory for both conditions, bilateral hippocampal activity only predicted associative memory.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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