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Journal Article

Medial prefrontal cortex supports perceptual memory


Melloni,  Lucia
Department of Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;
NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, New York University ;

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Schwiedrzik, C. M., Sudmann, S. S., Thesen, T., Wang, X., Groppe, D. M., Megevand, P., et al. (2018). Medial prefrontal cortex supports perceptual memory. Current Biology, 28(18), R1094-R1095. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.066.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-697B-F
Our visual environment constantly changes, yet we experience the world as a stable, unified whole. How is this stability achieved? It has been proposed that the brain preserves an implicit perceptual memory in sensory cortices [1] which stabilizes perception towards previously experienced states 2, 3. The role of higher-order areas, especially prefrontal cortex (PFC), in perceptual memory is less explored. Because PFC exhibits long neural time constants, invariance properties, and large receptive fields which may stabilize perception against time-varying inputs, it seems particularly suited to implement perceptual memory [4]. Support for this idea comes from a neuroimaging study reporting that dorsomedial PFC (dmPFC) correlates with perceptual memory [5]. But dmPFC also participates in decision making [6], so its contribution to perceptual memory could arise on a post-perceptual, decisional level [7]. To determine which role, if any, PFC plays in perceptual memory, we obtained direct intracranial recordings in six epilepsy patients while they performed sequential orientation judgements on ambiguous stimuli known to elicit perceptual memory [8]. We found that dmPFC activity in the high gamma frequency band (HGB, 70–150 Hz) correlates with perceptual memory. This effect is anatomically specific to dmPFC and functionally specific for memories of preceding percepts. Further, dmPFC appears to play a causal role, as a patient with a lesion in this area showed impaired perceptual memory. Thus, dmPFC integrates current sensory information with prior percepts, stabilizing visual experience against the perpetual variability of our surroundings.