Given the diversity of stimuli encountered in daily life, a variety of strategies must be used for learning new information. Relating and encoding visual and verbal stimuli into memory has been probed using various tasks and stimulus types. Engagement of specific subsequent memory and cortical processing regions depends on the stimulus modality of studied material; however, it remains unclear whether different encoding strategies similarly influence regional activity when stimulus type is held constant. In this study, participants encoded object pairs using a visual or verbal associative strategy during fMRI, and subsequent memory was assessed for pairs encoded under each strategy. Each strategy elicited distinct regional processing and subsequent memory effects: middle/superior frontal, lateral parietal, and lateral occipital for visually associated pairs and inferior frontal, medial frontal, and medial occipital for verbally associated pairs. This regional selectivity mimics the effects of stimulus modality, suggesting that cortical involvement in associative encoding is driven by strategy and not simply by stimulus type. The clinical relevance of these findings, probed in a patient with a recent aphasic stroke, suggest that training with strategies utilizing unaffected cortical regions might improve memory ability in patients with brain damage.

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