Associative learning signals in the brain

Prog Brain Res. 2008:169:305-20. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(07)00019-2.


Associative memory is defined as memory for the relationship between two initially unrelated items, like a name and an unfamiliar face. Associative memory is not only one of the most common forms of memory used in everyday situations, but is highly dependent on the structures of the medial temporal lobe (MTL). The goal of this chapter is to review the patterns of neural activity shown to underlie the formation of new associative memories in the MTL, as well as to examine how other extra-MTL areas participate in the learning process. Other areas implicated in various aspects of associative learning include the motor-related areas of the frontal lobe, prefrontal cortex, and striatum. The question of how the MTL and the other cortical and subcortical structures may interact during associative learning will be discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Oxygen / blood


  • Oxygen