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J Neurosci. 2004 Apr 21;24(16):3917-25.

Inferior temporal, prefrontal, and hippocampal contributions to visual working memory maintenance and associative memory retrieval.

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Center for Neuroscience and Department of Psychology, University of California at Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Higher order cognition depends on the ability to recall information from memory and hold it in mind to guide future behavior. To specify the neural mechanisms underlying these processes, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare brain activity during the performance of a visual associative memory task and a visual working memory task. Activity within category-selective subregions of inferior temporal cortex reflected the type of information that was actively maintained during both the associative memory and working memory tasks. In addition, activity in the anterior prefrontal cortex and hippocampus was specifically enhanced during associative memory retrieval. These data are consistent with the view that the active maintenance of visual information is supported by activation of object representations in inferior temporal cortex, but that goal-directed associative memory retrieval additionally depends on top-down signals from the anterior prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobes.

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