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Dissociation between Conceptual and Perceptual Implicit Memory: Evidence from Patients with Frontal and Occipital Lobe Lesions

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      The latest neuroimaging studies about implicit memory (IM) have revealed that different IM types may be processed by different parts of the brain. However, studies have rarely examined what subtypes of IM processes are affected in patients with various brain injuries. Twenty patients with frontal lobe injury, 25 patients with occipital lobe injury, and 29 healthy controls (HC) were recruited for the study. Two subtypes of IM were investigated by using structurally parallel perceptual (picture identification task) and conceptual (category exemplar generation task) IM tests in the three groups, as well as explicit memory (EM) tests. The results indicated that the priming of conceptual IM and EM tasks in patients with frontal lobe injury was poorer than that observed in HC, while perceptual IM was identical between the two groups. By contrast, the priming of perceptual IM in patients with occipital lobe injury was poorer than that in HC, whereas the priming of conceptual IM and EM was similar to that in HC. This double dissociation between perceptual and conceptual IM across the brain areas implies that occipital lobes may participate in perceptual IM, while frontal lobes may be involved in processing conceptual memory.

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      The human frontal cortex helps mediate working memory, a system that is used for temporary storage and manipulation of information and that is involved in many higher cognitive functions. Working memory includes two components: short-term storage (on the order of seconds) and executive processes that operate on the contents of storage. Recently, these two components have been investigated in functional neuroimaging studies. Studies of storage indicate that different frontal regions are activated for different kinds of information: storage for verbal materials activates Broca's area and left-hemisphere supplementary and premotor areas; storage of spatial information activates the right-hemisphere premotor cortex; and storage of object information activates other areas of the prefrontal cortex. Two of the fundamental executive processes are selective attention and task management. Both processes activate the anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
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        The new functional neuroimaging techniques, PET and functional MRI (fMRI), offer sufficient experimental flexibility and spatial resolution to explore the functional neuroanatomical bases of different memory stages and processes. They have had a particular impact on our understanding of the role of the frontal cortex in memory processing. We review the insights that have been gained, and attempt a synthesis of the findings from functional imaging studies of working memory, encoding in episodic memory and retrieval from episodic memory. Though these different aspects of memory have usually been studied in isolation, we suggest that there is sufficient convergence with respect to frontal activations to make such a synthesis worthwhile. We concentrate in particular on three regions of the lateral frontal cortex--ventrolateral, dorsolateral and anterior--that are consistently activated in these studies, and attribute these activations to the updating/maintenance of information, the selection/manipulation/monitoring of that information, and the selection of processes/subgoals, respectively. We also acknowledge a number of empirical inconsistencies associated with this synthesis, and suggest possible reasons for these. More generally, we predict that the resolution of questions concerning the functional neuroanatomical subdivisions of the frontal cortex will ultimately depend on a fuller cognitive psychological fractionation of memory control processes, an enterprise that will be guided and tested by experimentation. We expect that the neuroimaging techniques will provide an important part of this enterprise.
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            Author and article information

            1Department of Neurology, Affiliated ZhongDa Hospital, School of Medicine, Southeast University , Nanjing, China
            2Department of Neurology, People’s Hospital of YuXi City, The Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University , Yuxi, China
            3The Second Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University , Hefei, China
            Author notes

            Edited by: Carol Seger, Colorado State University, USA

            Reviewed by: Stephen J. Gotts, National Institutes of Health, USA; Pietro Spataro, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

            *Correspondence: Huaidong Cheng, chd1976ay@
            Front Hum Neurosci
            Front Hum Neurosci
            Front. Hum. Neurosci.
            Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            13 January 2016
            : 9
            Copyright © 2016 Gong, Wang, Yang, Feng, Li, Gu, Wang, Hu and Cheng.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Figures: 2, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 32, Pages: 7, Words: 5073
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