The contribution of different prefrontal cortex regions to recollection and familiarity: a review of fMRI data

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Abstract

Dual-process theories of recognition memory sustain that recollection and familiarity reflect different mnemonic processes and rely on separate neural substrates that are located primarily in the medial temporal lobe (MTL). Aggleton and Brown’s model (1999) assumes that this distinction extends to other brain regions, including the thalamus, and that both recognition memory processes interact with the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Nevertheless, it is still unclear whether recollection and familiarity are subtended by separate prefrontal regions. Here we provided a review of the literature that first focused on functional magnetic resonance imaging studies that adopted the Remember/Know method and reported recollection- and familiarity-based activity in the PFC. There is evidence that functional activations are differently located within the lateral (i.e., along the dorso-ventral axis), medial (i.e., along the rostro-caudal axis) and anterior (i.e., along the medio-lateral axis) prefrontal surfaces according to whether they are recollection- or familiarity-related. Overall, the findings we summarise suggest that recollection and familiarity are qualitatively different processes and rely on distinct neural pathways even outside the MTL.

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