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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2009 Jul;15(4):536-46. doi: 10.1017/S135561770909078X.

Modulation of medial temporal lobe activity in epilepsy patients with hippocampal sclerosis during verbal working memory.

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Center of Magnetoencephalography Dr. Pérez-Modrego, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid 28040, Spain.


It has been traditionally assumed that medial temporal lobe (MTL) is not required for working memory (WM). However, animal lesion and electrophysiological studies and human neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies have provided increasing evidences of a critical involvement of MTL in WM. Based on previous findings, the central aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of the MTL to verbal WM encoding. Here, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to compare the patterns of MTL activation of 9 epilepsy patients suffering from left hippocampal sclerosis with those of 10 healthy matched controls while they performed a verbal WM task. MEG recordings allow detailed tracking of the time course of MTL activation. We observed impaired WM performance associated with changes in the dynamics of MTL activity in epilepsy patients. Specifically, whereas patients showed decreased activity in damaged MTL, activity in the contralateral MTL was enhanced, an effect that became significant in the 600- to 700-ms interval after stimulus presentation. These findings strongly support the crucial contribution of MTL to verbal WM encoding and provide compelling evidence for the proposal that MTL contributes to both episodic memory and WM. Whether this pattern is signaling reorganization or a normal use of a damaged structure is discussed.

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