Prefrontal selection and medial temporal lobe reactivation in retrieval of short-term verbal information.
Sakai K., Passingham RE.
Both the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and medial temporal lobe (MTL) are involved in memory retrieval. Here we distinguish between their roles by manipulating demand for interference resolution and reactivation of maintained information. Subjects were tested on a letter working memory task with distractors. When the memory delay was interrupted with letter distractors, there was higher activity in the middle frontal gyrus at retrieval compared to when the delay was interrupted by number distractors, suggesting the role of the PFC in interference resolution. By contrast, activity in the parahippocampal gyrus did not differ between the two conditions. The two structures were then compared using the dataset of our previous study on memory reactivation, where subjects performed a letter working memory task with arithmetic distractors or non-distractors. The activity in the parahippocampal gyrus at retrieval was higher when distractors interrupted rehearsal than when the intervening task was non-distracting and subjects continued to rehearse, suggesting the role of the MTL in reactivating the stored information. By contrast, the activity in the middle frontal gyrus did not differ between the two conditions. Taking these results together, we have shown the double dissociation between the PFC and MTL in memory retrieval.