Neuronal correlate of visual associative long-term memory in the primate temporal cortex


In human long-term memory, ideas and concepts become associated in the learning process1. No neuronal correlate for this cognitive function has so far been described, except that memory traces are thought to be localized in the cerebral cortex; the temporal lobe has been assigned as the site for visual experience because electric stimulation of this area results in imagery recall,2 and lesions produce deficits in visual recognition of objects3–9. We previously reported that in the anterior ventral temporal cortex of monkeys, individual neurons have a sustained activity that is highly selective for a few of the 100 coloured fractal patterns used in a visual working-memory task10. Here I report the development of this selectivity through repeated trials involving the working memory. The few patterns for which a neuron was conjointly selective were frequently related to each other through stimulus–stimulus association imposed during training. The results indicate that the selectivity acquired by these cells represents a neuronal correlate of the associative long-term memory of pictures.

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Miyashita, Y. Neuronal correlate of visual associative long-term memory in the primate temporal cortex. Nature 335, 817–820 (1988).

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