How the different elements of our experiences are encoded into episodic memories has remained one of the major questions in memory research. Although the pivotal role of the medial temporal lobe as a whole for memory formation is well established, much controversy surrounds the precise contributions of the subregions in the medial temporal lobe cortex (MTLC), most notably the perirhinal cortex (PrC) and the parahippocampal cortex (PhC). Although one prominent view links PrC processes with familiarity-based memory and PhC with recollection, an alternative organizing principle is the representational domain critical for successful memory performance (e.g., object- versus scene-related information).In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we directly compared successful source encoding during object versus scene imagery, holding perceptual input constant across the two representational domains. Although the hippocampus contributed to associative encoding of both object and scene information, our results revealed a clear double dissociation between PrCandPhCforobject-versusscene-relatedsourceencoding.Inparticular,PrC,butnot PhC,encodingactivationpredictedlater source memory for the object imagery task, whereas PhC, but not PrC, encoding activation predicted later source memory for the scene imagery task. Interestingly, the transitional zone between PrC and posterior PhC contributed to both object and scene source encoding, possibly reflectinga gradient in domain preference along MTLC.In sum, these results strongly point to representational domain asa key factor determining the involvement of different MTLC subregions during successful episodic memory formation.
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