Encoding and retrieving faces and places: Distinguishing process- and stimulus-specific differences in brain activity

Steven E. Prince, Nancy A. Dennis, Roberto Cabeza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Among the most fundamental issues in cognitive neuroscience is how the brain may be organized into process-specific and stimulus-specific regions. In the episodic memory domain, most functional neuroimaging studies have focused on the former dimension, typically investigating the neural correlates of various memory processes. Thus, there is little information about what role stimulus-specific brain regions play in successful memory processes. To address this issue, the present event-related fMRI study used a factorial design to focus on the role of stimulus-specific brain regions, such as the fusiform face area (FFA) and parahippocampal place area (PPA) in successful encoding and retrieval processes. Searching within regions sensitive to faces or places, we identified areas similarly involved in encoding and retrieval, as well as areas differentially involved in encoding or retrieval. Finally, we isolated regions associated with successful memory, regardless of stimulus and process type. There were three main findings. Within face sensitive regions, anterior medial PFC and right FFA displayed equivalent encoding and retrieval success processes whereas left FFA was associated with successful encoding rather than retrieval. Within place sensitive regions, left PPA displayed equivalent encoding and retrieval success processes whereas right PPA was associated with successful encoding rather than retrieval. Finally, medial temporal and prefrontal regions were associated with general memory success, regardless of stimulus or process type. Taken together, our results clarify the contribution of different brain regions to stimulus- and process-specific episodic memory mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2282-2289
Number of pages8
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume47
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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