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Towards Understanding of the Cortical Network Underlying Associative Memory

Takahiro Osada, Yusuke Adachi, Hiroko M. Kimura and Yasushi Miyashita
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences
Vol. 363, No. 1500, Japan: Its Tradition and Hot Topics in Biological Sciences (Jun. 27, 2008), pp. 2187-2199
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20208627
Page Count: 13
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Towards Understanding of the Cortical Network Underlying Associative Memory
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Abstract

Declarative knowledge and experiences are represented in the association cortex and are recalled by reactivation of the neural representation. Electrophysiological experiments have revealed that associations between semantically linked visual objects are formed in neural representations in the temporal and limbic cortices. Memory traces are created by the reorganization of neural circuits. These regions are reactivated during retrieval and contribute to the contents of a memory. Two different types of retrieval signals are suggested as follows: automatic and active. One flows backward from the medial temporal lobe during the automatic retrieval process, whereas the other is conveyed as a top-down signal from the prefrontal cortex to the temporal cortex during the active retrieval process. By sending the top-down signal, the prefrontal cortex manipulates and organizes to-be-remembered information, devises strategies for retrieval and monitors the outcome. To further understand the neural mechanism of memory, the following two complementary views are needed: how the multiple cortical areas in the brain-wide network interact to orchestrate cognitive functions and how the properties of single neurons and their synaptic connections with neighbouring neurons combine to form local circuits and to exhibit the function of each cortical area. We will discuss some new methodological innovations that tackle these challenges.

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