Prefrontal-temporal circuitry for episodic encoding and subsequent memory

Brenda A. Kirchhoff*, Anthony D. Wagner, Anat Maril, Chantal E. Stern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

488 Scopus citations


Humans encounter and form memories for multiple types of experiences that differ in content, novelty, and memorability. Critical for understanding memory is determining (1) how the brain supports the encoding of events with differing content and (2) whether neural regions that are sensitive to novelty also influence whether stimuli will be subsequently remembered. This event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study crossed content (picture/word), novelty (novel/repeated), and subsequent memory (remembered/forgotten) to examine prefrontal and temporal lobe contributions to encoding. Results revealed three patterns of encoding-related activation in anatomically connected inferior prefrontal and lateral temporal structures that appeared to vary depending on whether visuospatial/visuo-object, phonological/lexical, or semantic attributes were processed. Event content also modulated medial temporal lobe activity; word encoding predominately activated the left hemisphere, whereas picture encoding activated both hemispheres. Critically, in prefrontal and temporal regions that were modulated by novelty, the magnitude of encoding activation also predicted whether an event would be subsequently remembered. These results suggest that (1) regions that demonstrate a sensitivity to novelty may actively support encoding processes that impact subsequent explicit memory and (2) multiple content-dependent prefrontal-temporal circuits support event encoding. The similarities between prefrontal and lateral temporal encoding responses raise the possibility that prefrontal modulation of posterior cortical representations is central to encoding.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6173-6180
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number16
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Declarative memory
  • Explicit memory
  • FMRI
  • Hippocampus
  • Human memory
  • Medial temporal lobe
  • Neuroimaging
  • Parahippocampal gyrus
  • Prefrontal cortex


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