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Left prefrontal activation during episodic remembering: an event-related fMRI study

Nolde, Scott F.1; Johnson, Marcia K.1,3; D'Esposito, Mark2

Brain Imaging

THE major current theory relating brain mechanisms in prefrontal cortex (PFC) to memory for discrete events (episodic memory) emphasizes the role of right PFC during retrieval. Using event-related fMRI, we found both right and left PFC activity during episodic remembering, but only the left PFC activity was related to the amount of episodic detail required at test. We suggest that right PFC subserves relatively simple, heuristic, cognitive processes and that left PFC is recruited for more reflectively demanding, systematic, processes. Episodic remembering often requires such systematic processes and, under those circumstances, recruits left, as well as right, PFC.

1Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1010

2Department of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, PA, USA

3Corresponding Author: Marcia K. Johnson

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The authors would like to thank Eric Zarahn and Geoff K. Aguirre for their statistical guidance, and Carol L. Raye for her insightful comments.

Received 8 July 1998; accepted 8 August 1998

© 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.