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J Neurosci. 2005 Aug 3;25(31):7260-7.

Encoding and the durability of episodic memory: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

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  • 1Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, California 92697-3800, USA.


Memories vary in their durability even when encoding conditions apparently remain constant. We investigated whether, under these circumstances, memory durability is nonetheless associated with variation in the neural activity elicited during encoding. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired while volunteers semantically classified visually presented words. Using the "remember/know" procedure, memory for one-half of the words was tested after 30 min and for the remaining half after 48 h. In several regions, including left hippocampus and left dorsal inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), activity at encoding differed depending on whether items were later recollected regardless of study-test delay. Delay-selective effects were also evident, however. Recollection after 48 h was associated with enhanced activity in bilateral ventral IFG, whereas recollection after 30 min was associated with greater fusiform activity. Thus, there is a relationship between the neural activity elicited by an event as it is encoded and the durability of the resulting memory representation.

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