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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1997 Nov 29;352(1362):1689-95.

The cognitive neuroscience of memory: perspectives from neuroimaging research.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Cognitive neuroscience approaches to memory attempt to elucidate the brain processes and systems that are involved in different forms of memory and learning. This paper examines recent research from brain-damaged patients and neuroimaging studies that bears on the distinction between explicit and implicit forms of memory. Explicit memory refers to conscious recollection of previous experiences, whereas implicit memory refers to the non-conscious effects of past experiences on subsequent performance and behaviour. Converging evidence suggests that an implicit form of memory known as priming is associated with changes in posterior cortical regions that are involved in perceptual processing; some of the same regions may contribute to explicit memory. The hippocampal formation and prefrontal cortex also play important roles in explicit memory. Evidence is presented from recent PET scanning studies that suggests that frontal regions are associated with intentional strategic efforts to retrieve recent experiences, whereas the hippocampal formation is associated with some aspect of the actual recollection of an event.

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