The hippocampal region is involved in successful recognition of both remote and recent famous faces

Neuroimage. 2004 Aug;22(4):1704-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.03.036.


There is currently a debate regarding the precise role of medial temporal regions in memory, in particular regarding the time scale of their involvement in conscious recollection of information stored in long-term memory. Using event-related fMRI, we have attempted to contribute to this debate by identifying brain regions associated with the successful recognition of famous faces from two different periods: "Old" faces of people who became famous in the 1960s-1970s and "Recent" faces of people who became famous in the 1990s. We demonstrate that the hippocampus is involved in the successful recognition of famous faces from both periods and does not appear to distinguish between these two periods. We also highlight a network of brain regions, including the left prefrontal cortex, the retrosplenial cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, the caudate and the right cerebellum, which is activated in association with successful recognition of famous faces. Finally, an analysis of the results obtained during a post hoc episodic recognition task shows the specific involvement of anterior hippocampus in the successful encoding of the unfamiliar faces, which were presented during the fame decision task, suggesting a functional distinction between anterior and posterior parts of the hippocampus, the former being specifically involved in successful episodic encoding and the latter being associated with successful retrieval of semantic information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Face*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology