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J Neurosci. 2015 May 13;35(19):7326-31. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4816-14.2015.

Consolidation of Associative and Item Memory Is Related to Post-Encoding Functional Connectivity between the Ventral Tegmental Area and Different Medial Temporal Lobe Subregions during an Unrelated Task.

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Department of Psychology and.
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027.
Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York 10003 and


It is well established that the hippocampus and perirhinal cortex (PrC) encode associative and item representations, respectively. However, less is known about how item and associative memories are consolidated. We used high-resolution fMRI in humans to measure how functional connectivity between these distinct medial temporal lobe regions with the ventral tegmental area (VTA) after a paired associate encoding task is related to both immediate and 24 h item and associative memory performance. We found that the strength of post-encoding functional connectivity between the VTA and CA1 selectively correlated with long-term associative memory, despite subjects actively engaging in an unrelated task during this period. Conversely, VTA-PrC functional connectivity during the same period correlated with long-term item memory. Critically, connectivity between VTA and these MTL regions were only related to memory tested at a 24 h delay, implicating midbrain connectivity in the consolidation of distinct forms of memory.


VTA; consolidation; functional connectivity; high-resolution fMRI; medial temporal lobe

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