Although a memory systems view of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) has been widely influential in understanding how memory processes are implemented, a large body of work across humans and animals has converged on the idea that the MTL can support various other decisions, beyond those involving memory. Specifically, recent work suggests that perception of and memory for visual representations may interact in order to support ongoing cognition. However, given considerations involving lesion profiles in neuropsychological investigations and the correlational nature of fMRI, the precise nature of representations supported by the MTL are not well understood in humans. In the present investigation, three patients with highly specific lesions to MTL were administered a task that taxed perceptual and mnemonic judgments with highly similar face stimuli. A striking double dissociation was observed such that I.R., a patient with a cyst localized to right posterior PRc, displayed a significant impairment in perceptual discriminations, whereas patient A.N., an individual with a lesion in right posterior parahippocampal cortex and the tail of the right hippocampus, and S.D., an individual with bilateral hippocampal damage, did not display impaired performance on the perceptual task. A.N. and S.D. did, however, show impairments in memory performance, whereas patient I.R. did not. These results causally implicate right PRc in successful perceptual oddity judgments, however they suggest that representations supported by PRc are not necessary for correct mnemonic judgments, even in situations of high featural overlap.
Keywords: Hippocampus; Medial temporal lobe; Memory; Perception; Perirhinal cortex.
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