Functional-anatomic correlates of memory retrieval that suggest nontraditional processing roles for multiple distinct regions within posterior parietal cortex

J Neurosci. 2004 Nov 10;24(45):10084-92. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2625-04.2004.


Current theories of posterior parietal cortex (PPC) function emphasize space-based attention and motor intention. Imaging studies of long-term memory have demonstrated PPC activation during successful memory retrieval. Here, we explored the relationship between memory processes and classical notions of PPC function. Study 1 investigated old-new recognition using picture and sound stimuli to test whether PPC memory effects were dependent on visuospatial attention. A region lateral to the intraparietal sulcus [inferior parietal lobule complex (IPLC)] and two regions in the medial PPC [precuneus complex (PCC) and posterior cingulate/retrosplenial cortex (pC/Rsp)] showed strong retrieval success effects for both picture and sound stimuli. Study 2 explored a recognition task with varied response contingencies to investigate whether these retrieval success effects are dependent on motor intentions. In one condition, subjects responded to both old and new items. In two other conditions, subjects responded only to old or only to new items. IPLC, PCC, and pC/Rsp continued to show retrieval success effects with similar magnitudes for all response contingencies, including a condition in which no responses were made to old items. In a third study, IPLC and PCC activity was modulated at retrieval based on levels of processing at study, suggesting sensitivity to memory demands. These studies demonstrate that retrieval success effects in lateral and medial PPC regions are not affected by manipulations predicted by classical theories of PPC function but can be modulated by memory-related manipulations. PPC regions thus have prominent response properties associated with memory, which may arise through interactions with medial temporal cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Auditory Perception
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Models, Psychological
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology