[Functional neuroimaging studies of episodic memory—functional dissociation in the medial temporal lobe structures]

Takashi Tsukiura
Brain and Nerve, Shinkei Kenkyƫ No Shinpo 2008, 60 (7): 833-44
Previous functional neuroimaging studies have demonstrated the critical role of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) regions in the encoding and retrieval of episodic memory. It has also been shown that an emotional factor in human memory enhances episodic encoding and retrieval. However, there is little evidence regarding the specific contribution of each MTL region to the relational, contextual, and emotional processes of episodic memory. The goal of this review article is to identify differential activation patterns of the processes between MTL regions. Results from functional neuroimaging studies of episodic memory show that the hippocampus is involved in encoding the relation between memory items, whereas the entorhinal and perirhinal cortices (anterior parahippocampal gyrus) contribute to the encoding of a single item. Additionally, the parahippocampal cortex (posterior parahippocampal gyrus) is selectively activated during the processing of contextual information of episodic memory. A similar pattern of functional dissociation is found in episodic memory retrieval. Functional neuroimaging has also shown that emotional information of episodic memory enhances amygdala-MTL correlations and that this enhancement is observed during both the encoding and retrieval of emotional memories. These findings from pervious neuroimaging studies suggest that different MTL regions could organize memory for personally experienced episodes via the "relation" and "context" factors of episodic memory, and that the emotional factor of episodes could modulate the functional organization in the MTL regions.


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