Associative memory and the medial temporal lobes

Trends Cogn Sci. 2007 Mar;11(3):126-35. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2006.12.003. Epub 2007 Jan 31.


Associative recognition and recall depend on structures in the medial temporal lobes (MTLs). There is disagreement about whether associative memory is functionally heterogeneous, whether it is functionally distinct from intra-item associative memory and how the MTLs contribute to this kind of memory. Despite an increase in research on associative memory, work has lacked a theoretical framework to guide design and interpretation of studies. One view provides a useful framework by postulating that associative memories differ in the degree to which their informational components converge in MTL structures that create familiarity-supporting or recollection-supporting memory representations. Using this framework, we consider psychological, lesion and functional imaging evidence, highlighting how informational convergence in the brain underlies the associative nature of both memory and perception.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Face
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Perception / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*