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Neuropsychologia. 1997 Jul;35(7):963-73.

Learning and retention of words and designs following excision from medial or lateral temporal-lobe structures.

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Montreal Neurological Institute, Quebec, Canada.


We sought to elucidate the contributions of the amygdala, hippocampus and temporal neocortex to learning and memory for verbal and visuospatial material. Two matched learning tasks, using abstract words versus abstract designs, were administered to patients with unilateral neocorticectomy (NCE; Dublin), selective amygdalohippocampectomy (AHE; Zurich) or anterior temporal-lobe resection invading the amygdala and hippocampus (ATL; Montreal). Data were analysed according to side and type of resection. Learning and recall for words was impaired in groups with resection from the left temporal lobe, irrespective of whether mediobasal structures were spared or temporal neocortex was spared. All right-resection groups were unimpaired. Learning for abstract designs was impaired across all trials in the right AHE and NCE groups, and on the last two trials in the right ATL group. Restricted deficits of lower magnitude were observed on some trials in left-resection groups. These results show a partial dissociation between side of excision and type of material, but the finding of similar deficits in all resection types was unexpected. We propose that excision from either the hippocampal region or temporal neocortex may result in a disconnection, giving a similar functional outcome, as both types of resection interrupt a circuit likely to be essential for normal storage and retrieval of information.

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