Reactivation of medial temporal lobe and occipital lobe during the retrieval of color information: A positron emission tomography study

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It is widely accepted that memory traces of an event include various types of information about the content of the event and about the circumstances in which the individual experienced it. However, how these various types of information are stored and later retrieved is poorly understood. One hypothesis postulates that the retrieval of specific event information reactivates regions that were active during the encoding of this information, with the aid of binding functions of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures. We used positron emission tomography to identify the brain regions related to the encoding and retrieval of color information. Specifically, we assessed whether overlapping activity was found in both the MTL structures and color-related cortical regions during the encoding and retrieval of color information attached with meaningless shapes. During the study, subjects were asked to encode colored (red or green) and achromatic random shapes. At subsequent testing, subjects were presented with only achromatic shapes, which had been presented with or without colors during encoding, and were engaged in retrieval tasks of shapes and colors. Overlapping activity was found in the MTL and occipital lobe (the lingual and inferior occipital gyri) in the right hemisphere during the encoding and retrieval of meaningless shapes with color information compared with those without color information. Although there are some limitations to be considered, the present findings seem to support the view that the retrieval of specific event information is associated with reactivation of both the MTL structures and the regions involved during encoding of the information.

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