Abstract

The time-limited role of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) in human long-term memory is well known. However, there is still no direct neuroimaging evidence to confirm it. In this fMRI study, nine subjects were scanned while asked to recall the places they visited more than seven years ago (remote memories); and the places they visited recently (recent memories). We observed robust and dominant MTL activity peaking in the left parahippocampal gyrus when recent memories were contrasted with remote memories. This result provided direct evidence for the time-limited role of the MTL in long-term topographical autobiographic memory. Further analysis revealed that this MTL activity was not due to the fact that the retrieval of recent memories was accompanied by more details. When detailed recent memories were contrasted with detailed remote memories, there was still MTL activity peaking in the left parahippocampal gyrus. The effects of details in remote memories are also discussed.

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