Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the role of medial temporal regions during active maintenance of information over short delays or working memory. In experiment 1, we observed sustained bilateral hippocampal activation during maintenance of novel faces across a short delay period but not during face encoding or recognition. In contrast, we observed transient right parahippocampal activation during encoding and recognition but not during maintenance. We replicated these findings in experiment 2 and further determined that anterior hippocampal activation was greater during maintenance of novel than familiar faces. Our results reveal the importance of medial temporal lobe regions for the active maintenance of novel information in the absence of perceptual stimulation.
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