Mapping episodic memory

Behav Brain Res. 1998 Feb;90(2):107-14. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(97)00094-6.


This paper presents an analysis of brain regions generally associated with a frequently used episodic memory task; visual word recognition. The results from five positron emission tomography studies of regional cerebral blood flow, involving a total of nine pairwise comparisons of brain activity related to episodic retrieval and to performance on non-episodic reference tasks, were considered. Across studies, increased activity has been observed in the right anterior and posterior prefrontal, anterior cingulate, bilateral parietal, and cerebellar regions. Decreased activity has been found in bilateral temporal and left midfrontal regions. Comparison of this activation pattern with those of other memory tasks, episodic and semantic, indicate that the right anterior and posterior prefrontal regions guide processes selectively demanded by episodic memory retrieval. There is suggestive evidence from subtraction analyses that these prefrontal regions are activated by different processing components, and analyses of functional connectivity provide further support for functional differentiation. These analyses also point to a critical role of medial-temporal brain regions in episodic retrieval. Taken together, these results show that episodic memory retrieval is mediated by an extensive set of brain regions, some of which seem to be specifically engaged by episodic remembering.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*