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Neuropsychologia. 2008;46(7):1813-27. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.03.019. Epub 2008 Apr 8.

Role of parietal regions in episodic memory retrieval: the dual attentional processes hypothesis.

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Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Box 90999, LSRC Building, Rm B203, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


Although parietal cortex is frequently activated during episodic memory retrieval, damage to this region does not markedly impair episodic memory. To account for these and other findings, a new dual attentional processes (DAP) hypothesis is proposed. According to this hypothesis, dorsal parietal cortex (DPC) contributes top-down attentional processes guided by retrieval goals, whereas ventral parietal cortex (VPC) contributes bottom-up attentional processes captured by the retrieval output. Consistent with this hypothesis, DPC activity increases with retrieval effort whereas VPC activity increases with confidence in old and new responses. The DAP hypothesis can also account for the overlap of parietal activations across different cognitive domains and for opposing effects of parietal activity on encoding vs. retrieval. Finally, the DAP hypothesis explains why VPC lesions yield a memory neglect syndrome: a deficit in spontaneously reporting relevant memory details but not in accessing the same details when guided by specific questions.

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