Left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the cognitive control of memory

Neuropsychologia. 2007 Oct 1;45(13):2883-901. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2007.06.015. Epub 2007 Jun 29.


Cognitive control mechanisms permit memory to be accessed strategically, and so aid in bringing knowledge to mind that is relevant to current goals and actions. In this review, we consider the contribution of left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) to the cognitive control of memory. Reviewed evidence supports a two-process model of mnemonic control, supported by a double dissociation among rostral regions of left VLPFC. Specifically, anterior VLPFC (approximately BA 47; inferior frontal gyrus pars orbitalis) supports controlled access to stored conceptual representations, whereas mid-VLPFC (approximately BA 45; inferior frontal gyrus pars triangularis) supports a domain-general selection process that operates post-retrieval to resolve competition among active representations. We discuss the contribution of these control mechanisms across a range of mnemonic domains, including semantic retrieval, recollection of contextual details about past events, resolution of proactive interference in working memory, and task switching. Finally, we consider open directions for future research into left VLPFC function and the cognitive control of memory.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*