Binding items and contexts: The cognitive neuroscience of episodic memory

Charan Ranganath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


In order to remember a past event, the brain must not only encode the specific aspects of an event but also bind them in a manner that can later specify the spatiotemporal context in which event occurred. Here, I describe recent research aimed at characterizing the functional organization of two brain regions-the medial temporal lobes and the prefrontal cortex-that allow us to accomplish this task. Converging evidence indicates that different regions of the medial temporal lobes may form representations of items, contexts, and item-context bindings and that areas in the prefrontal cortex may implement working-memory control processes that allow us to build meaningful relationships between items that are encountered over time. The results are compatible with an emerging model that generates novel predictions at both the behavioral and neural levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-137
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Brain
  • FMRI
  • Hippocampus
  • Learning
  • Medial
  • Memory
  • Parahippocampal
  • Perirhinal
  • Prefrontal
  • Recognition
  • Temporal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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