Previous neuroimaging research has established that the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) is involved in long-term memory (LTM) encoding for individual items. Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is implicated less frequently, and one theory that has gained support to explain this discrepancy is that DLPFC is involved in forming item-item relational but not item LTM. Given that neuroimaging results are correlational, complimentary methods such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have been used to test causal hypotheses generated from imaging data. Most TMS studies of LTM encoding have found that disruption of lateral PFC activity impairs subsequent memory. However these studies have lacked methods to precisely localize and directly compare TMS effects from frontal subregions implicated by the neuroimaging literature. Here, we target specific subregions of lateral PFC with TMS to test the prediction from the item/relational framework that temporary disruption of VLPFC during encoding will impair subsequent memory whereas TMS to DLPFC during item encoding will not. Frontal TMS was administered prior to a LTM encoding task in which participants were presented with a list of individual nouns and asked to judge whether each noun was concrete or abstract. After a 40 min delay period, item recognition memory was tested. Results indicate that VLPFC and DLPFC TMS have differential effects on subsequent item memory. VLPFC TMS reliably disrupted subsequent item memory whereas DLPFC TMS led to numerical enhancement in item memory, relative to TMS to a control region.
Keywords: Brain stimulation; Cognitive control; DLPFC; Memory; TMS; VLPFC.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd.