Disrupting frontal eye-field activity impairs memory recall.
Wantz AL., Martarelli CS., Cazzoli D., Kalla R., Müri R., Mast FW.
A large body of research demonstrated that participants preferably look back to the encoding location when retrieving visual information from memory. However, the role of this 'looking back to nothing' is still debated. The goal of the present study was to extend this line of research by examining whether an important area in the cortical representation of the oculomotor system, the frontal eye field (FEF), is involved in memory retrieval. To interfere with the activity of the FEF, we used inhibitory continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS). Before stimulation was applied, participants encoded a complex scene and performed a short-term (immediately after encoding) or long-term (after 24 h) recall task, just after cTBS over the right FEF or sham stimulation. cTBS did not affect overall performance, but stimulation and statement type (object vs. location) interacted. cTBS over the right FEF tended to impair object recall sensitivity, whereas there was no effect on location recall sensitivity. These findings suggest that the FEF is involved in retrieving object information from scene memory, supporting the hypothesis that the oculomotor system contributes to memory recall.