Separable routes to human memory formation: dissociating task and material contributions in the prefrontal cortex

J Cogn Neurosci. Jan-Feb 2004;16(1):139-48. doi: 10.1162/089892904322755629.


The present study used fMRI to investigate functional dissociations across frontal regions during incidental memory formation. Subjects were imaged while encoding materials with differential access to phonological codes (nonfamous faces and nameable famous faces) under task conditions that encouraged elaborate (deep) or superficial (shallow) encoding strategies. Results revealed a functional dissociation between dorsal posterior regions of the prefrontal cortex (BA 6/44) that were sensitive to material type (famous vs. nonfamous), irrespective of the encoding task, and ventral anterior regions of the prefrontal cortex (BA 45/47) that were uniquely sensitive to task demands (deep vs. shallow), regardless of material type. Further, subjects realized a memorial advantage to the extent that they recruited these dissociable frontal regions. These results demonstrate a posterior/anterior dichotomy in the frontal cortex that underlies separable code-based routes to human memory formation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Face
  • Famous Persons
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Reference Values