Distinct roles for lateral and medial rostral prefrontal cortex in source monitoring of perceived and imagined events

Turner, M.S., Simons, J.S., Gilbert, S.J., Frith, C.D., & Burgess, P.W. (2008). Neuropsychologia, 46, 1442-1453.

Rostral prefrontal cortex (PFC) is known to be involved in source memory, the ability to recollect contextual information about an event. However it is unclear whether subregions of rostral PFC may be differentially engaged during the recollection of different kinds of source detail. We used event related functional MRI to contrast two forms of source recollection: (1) recollection of whether stimuli had previously been perceived or imagined, and (2) recollection of which of two temporally distinct lists those stimuli had been presented in. Lateral regions of rostral PFC were activated in both tasks. However medial regions of rostral PFC were activated only when participants were required to recollect source information for self-generated, "imagined" stimuli, indicating a specific role in self-referential processing. In addition, reduced activity in a region of medial ventro-caudal PFC/basal forebrain was associated with making "imagined-to-perceived" confabulation errors. These results suggest that whilst the processing resources supported by some regions of lateral rostral PFC play a general role in source recollection, those supported by medial rostral PFC structures may be more specialised in their contributions.