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Nat Neurosci. 2012 Jul 1;15(8):1167-73. doi: 10.1038/nn.3154.

Memory signals are temporally dissociated in and across human hippocampus and perirhinal cortex.

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Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK.


In the endeavor to understand how our brains enable our multifaceted memories, much controversy surrounds the contributions of the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex (PrC). We recorded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy controls and intracranial electroencephalography (EEG) in patients during a recognition memory task. Although conventional fMRI analysis showed indistinguishable roles of the hippocampus and PrC in familiarity-based item recognition and recollection-based source retrieval, event-related fMRI and EEG time courses revealed a clear temporal dissociation of memory signals in and across these regions. An early source retrieval effect was followed by a late, post-decision item novelty effect in hippocampus, whereas an early item novelty effect was followed by a sustained source retrieval effect in PrC. Although factors such as memory strength were not experimentally controlled, the temporal pattern across regions suggests that a rapid item recognition signal in PrC triggers a source retrieval process in the hippocampus, which in turn recruits PrC representations and/or mechanisms, evidenced here by increased hippocampal-PrC coupling during source recognition.

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