The prevailing paradigm in cognitive neuroscience assumes that the brain can be best understood as consisting of modules specialised for different psychological functions. Within the field of memory, we assume modules for different kinds of memory. The most influential version of this view posits a module called the "medial temporal lobe memory system" which operates in the service of "declarative memory." This system can be contrasted with a separate "perceptual representation system" in the ventral visual stream, which is critical for perceptual learning and memory, an example of nondeclarative function. Here we question this modular memory systems view and suggest that a better way to understand the ventral visual-perirhinal-hippocampal stream is as a hierarchically organised representational continuum. We suggest that in general, rather than trying to map psychological functions onto brain modules, we could benefit by instead attempting to understand the functions of brain regions in terms of the representations they contain, and the computations they perform.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.