Dissecting out conscious and unconscious memory (sub)processes within the human medial temporal lobe

T. Grunwald*, N. Pezer, T. F. Münte, M. Kurthen, K. Lehnertz, D. Van Roost, G. Fernández, M. Kutas, C. E. Elger

*Corresponding author for this work
24 Citations (Scopus)


The human medial temporal lobe (MTL) system mediates memories that can be consciously recollected. However, the specific natures of the individual contributions of its various subregions to conscious memory processes remain equivocal. Here we show a functional dissociation between the hippocampus proper and the parahippocampal region in conscious and unconscious memory as revealed by invasive recordings of limbic event-related brain potentials recorded during explicit and implicit word recognition: Only hippocampal and not parahippocampal neural activity exhibits a sensitivity to the implicit versus explicit nature of the recognition memory task. Moreover, only within the hippocampus proper do the neural responses to repeated words differ not only from those to new words but also from each other as a function of recognition success. By contrast parahippocampal (rhinal) responses are sensitive to repetition independent of conscious recognition. These findings thus demonstrate that it is the hippocampus proper among the MTL structures that is specifically engaged during conscious memory processes.

Original languageEnglish
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2003

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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