Item-location binding in working memory: Is it hippocampus-dependent?

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Abstract

A general consensus is emerging that the hippocampus has an important and active role in the creation of new long-term memory representations of associations or bindings between elements. However, it is less clear whether this contribution can be extended to the creation of temporary bound representations in working memory, involving the retention of small numbers of items over short delays. We examined this by administering a series of recognition and recall tests of working memory for colour-location binding and object-location binding to a patient with highly selective hippocampal damage (Jon), and groups of control participants. Jon achieved high levels of accuracy in all working memory tests of recognition and recall binding across retention intervals of up to 10 s. In contrast, Jon performed at chance on an unexpected delayed test of the same object-location binding information. These findings indicate a clear dissociation between working memory and long-term memory, with no evidence for a critical hippocampal contribution to item-location binding in working memory.

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