Recent findings have led to a growing appreciation of the role of the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) in episodic long-term memory (LTM). Here, the authors will review results from neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies of humans and present a framework to explain how different regions of the PFC contribute to successful LTM formation. Central to this framework is the idea that different regions within the PFC implement different control processes that augment memory by enhancing or attenuating memory for certain aspects of a particular item or event. Evidence reviewed here suggests that ventrolateral regions of the PFC contribute to the ability to select goal-relevant item information, and that this processing strengthens the representation of goal-relevant features of items during LTM encoding. Dorsolateral regions of the PFC may contribute to the ability to organize multiple pieces of information in working memory, thereby enhancing memory for associations among items in LTM. Thus, dorsolateral and ventrolateral regions of the PFC may implement different control processes that support LTM formation in a complementary fashion.
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