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Studies examining medial temporal lobe (MTL) involvement in memory formation typically assess memory performance after a single, short delay. Thus, the relationship between MTL encoding activity and memory durability over time remains poorly characterized. To explore this relationship, we scanned participants using high-resolution functional imaging of the MTL as they encoded object pairs; using the remember/know paradigm, we then assessed memory performance for studied items both 10 min and 1 week later. Encoding trials were classified as either subsequently recollected across both delays, transiently recollected (i.e., recollected at 10 min but not after 1 week), consistently familiar, or consistently forgotten. Activity in perirhinal cortex (PRC) and a hippocampal subfield comprising the dentate gyrus and CA fields 2 and 3 reflected successful encoding only when items were recollected consistently across both delays. Furthermore, in PRC, encoding activity for items that later were consistently recollected was significantly greater than that for transiently recollected and consistently familiar items. Parahippocampal cortex, in contrast, showed a subsequent memory effect during encoding of items that were recollected after 10 min, regardless of whether they also were recollected after 1 week. These data suggest that MTL subfields contribute uniquely to the formation of memories that endure over time, and highlight a role for PRC in supporting subsequent durable episodic recollection.


© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Publisher: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press

Published in: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience