Encoding novel face-name associations: a functional MRI study

Hum Brain Mapp. 2001 Nov;14(3):129-39. doi: 10.1002/hbm.1047.


The process of forming new associations between previously unrelated items of information, such as a name and a face, likely requires the integration of activity within multiple brain regions. The hippocampus and related structures in the medial temporal lobe are thought to be particularly critical in binding together items of information. We studied eight healthy young subjects with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during the encoding of novel face-name associations compared to viewing repeated face-name pairs. A consistent pattern of activation was observed in the hippocampus, pulvinar nucleus of the thalamus, fusiform and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices across individual subjects. The location of the activation within the hippocampus was more anterior than previously reported in studies using similar novel vs. repeated paradigms with stimuli that did not specifically require relational processing among unrelated items. These data suggest that the process of forming new face-name associations is supported by a distributed network of brain regions, and provide additional evidence for the essential role of the hippocampus in associative memory processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*