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Activation of Left Prefrontal Cortex During Episodic Memory Tests: An fMRI Study.

 Carol L. Raye, Scott F. Nolde, Karen J. Mitchell, Mark D'Esposito and Marcia K. Johnson

A recent review of neuroimaging studies suggested that right prefrontal cortex (PFC) is recruited during heuristic evaluation of episodic memories and that left PFC is engaged in episodic remembering when more complex or systematic retrieval and/or evaluation is required (Nolde, Johnson, & Raye, 1998). Consistent with this, a previous fMRI study comparing old/new recognition with more specific decisions about the source of memories (picture, word or new) found no difference between old/new recognition and source identification conditions in activation of right PFC, but greater left PFC activation during the source task than the recognition task (Nolde, Johnson, & D'Esposito, 1998). The current study extended this finding holding the number of response options constant. Again, left PFC was responsive to the difference between old/new recognition and more specific source identification. Taken together, these findings suggest that when tasks involve more difficult or more specific access and evaluation during episodic remembering, more left PFC and/or more cooperative interactions between right and left PFC may be required.


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