Abstract

We applied structural equation modeling to positron emission tomography data in humans to examine functional interactions between the right medial temporal lobe (MTL) and selected right neocortical regions in relation to visual recognition memory. Using a priori knowledge about anatomical connections between these regions as a guiding constraint, we modeled the pattern of interactions [i.e. covariances in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF)] associated with episodic memory retrieval of spatial location and compared it with the pattern for retrieval of object identity. We also compared these patterns with those associated with perceptual matching of spatial location and object identity. Although displaying no difference in average rCBF across tasks, the right MTL showed domain-specific qualitative differences in interactions with posterior dorsal (parieto-occipital sulcus, supramarginal gyrus) and ventral regions (fusiform gyrus, superior temporal sulcus) but not with a prefrontal region. MTL interactions involving dorsal regions were positive in the spatial retrieval task but negative for object retrieval. Interactions involving ventral regions showed the reverse pattern. No comparable changes were observed during perceptual matching. Using control models, we demonstrated the neuroanatomical specificity of these results. Our results provide support for the notion that the nature of interactions between the MTL and posterior neocortex depends on the domain of information to-be-recovered.