Is prefrontal cortex involved in cued recall? A neuropsychological test of PET findings

Diane Swick, Robert T. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Positron emission tomography (PET) experiments have detected blood flow activations in right anterior prefrontal cortex during performance of a word stem cued recall task. Based on findings from a variety of PET studies, the 'hemispheric encoding/retrieval asymmetry model' was proposed to explain the role of the frontal lobes in episodic memory. This model asserts that left prefrontal cortex is preferentially involved in the encoding of new information into episodic memory, whereas right prefrontal cortex is more involved in episodic memory retrieval. As a neuropsychological test of this hypothesis, a group of frontal patients with lesions in areas 6, 8, 9, 10, 44, 45 and/or 46 (11 left, five right) were run on word stem cued recall under two semantic study conditions. As a group, these patients were not significantly impaired in cued recall. In the first but not the second experiment, left frontal patients recalled fewer words than controls. Right frontal patients were not impaired on either list. Right prefrontal cortex could be activated by several strategic aspects of the cued recall paradigm that were minimized in the present experiment. Brain reorganization in the lesioned patients could also account for their intact performance. The regions of prefrontal cortex activated in PET studies of young controls are not necessary for patients to perform the task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1028
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1996


  • Episodic
  • Frontal
  • Human
  • Memory
  • Semantic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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