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Keywords:

  • fMRI;
  • implicit memory;
  • inferofrontal cortex;
  • inferotemporal cortex

Abstract

Repetition priming denotes a behavioural change caused by prior exposure to a stimulus. The effect is known to last for weeks. This study addresses the underlying neural mechanisms for very-long-term picture priming by using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging complemented by a behavioural paradigm. Previous functional imaging studies with shorter retention intervals have shown that priming is associated with changes in the activity of both the occipital and posterior temporal cortex. In this study we compared retention intervals of 1 day and 6 weeks after initial exposure to a picture stimulus. Priming-related decreases in cortical activity in posterior extrastriate and dorsal left inferior frontal areas were found only for the shorter retention interval. In contrast, fMRI activation in the inferior posterior temporal and anterior left inferior frontal cortex was reduced following priming for both retention intervals. In the behavioural paradigm, the priming effect was stable over time. We conclude that the left inferior frontal and inferior posterior temporal cortex play a key role in the very-long-term priming effect.