Repetition suppression and reactivation in auditory-verbal short-term recognition memory


The neural response to stimulus repetition is not uniform across brain regions, stimulus modalities, or task contexts. For instance, it has been observed in many functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that sometimes stimulus repetition leads to a relative reduction in neural activity (repetition suppression), whereas in other cases repetition results in a relative increase in activity (repetition enhancement). In the present study, we hypothesized that in the context of a verbal short-term recognition memory task, repetition-related “increases” should be observed in the same posterior temporal regions that have been previously associated with “persistent activity” in working memory rehearsal paradigms. We used fMRI and a continuous recognition memory paradigm with short lags to examine repetition effects in the posterior and anterior regions of the superior temporal cortex. Results showed that, consistent with our hypothesis, the 2 posterior temporal regions consistently associated with working memory maintenance, also show repetition increases during short-term recognition memory. In contrast, a region in the anterior superior temporal lobe showed repetition suppression effects, consistent with previous research work on perceptual adaptation in the auditory-verbal domain. We interpret these results in light of recent theories of the functional specialization along the anterior and posterior axes of the superior temporal lobe.

Cerebral Cortex