Anterior Prefrontal Cortex and the Recollection of Contextual Information

Simons, J.S., Owen, A.M., Fletcher, P.C., & Burgess, P.W. (2005). Neuropsychologia, 43, 1774-1783.

Recollective memory can involve the retrieval of many different kinds of contextual information, including where and when an event took place, as well as our thoughts and feelings at the time. The brain regions associated with this ability were examined in an event-related fMRI experiment, where participants made decisions about words or famous faces which were presented either on the left or right of a monitor screen. Subsequently, the studied words and faces were again presented and participants underwent fMRI brain scanning while recollecting either which of the decisions they had made on each item ("task memory"), or whether it had been presented on the left or right of the screen ("position memory"). A functional dissociation was observed within anterior prefrontal cortex (principally Brodmann's Area 10), with activation in lateral regions associated with remembering either type of information (relative to baseline), and a medial anterior PFC region showing significantly greater activation during the "task memory" conditions. These results suggest different roles for lateral and medial anterior prefrontal cortex in recollection.