Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Stefan Köhler


Much neuropsychological and neuroimaging research has been focused on the contributions of different medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures to recognition memory. The majority of these studies have linked perirhinal cortex (PrC) to item recognition, whereas the hippocampus and parahippocampal cortex (PhC) have primarily been associated with the recollection of contextual detail pertaining to a specific prior stimulus encounter. Here, I report results from three fMRI studies that examined the neural correlates of item recognition with a specific focus on the relationship between such signals and category-specific effects in the MTL. In Chapter 2, I reveal that category-specific representations in both PrC and PhC can be brought to bear on item recognition decisions. In Chapter 3, I examined the specific stimulus properties that determine the relative contributions of PrC and PhC to item recognition, with a focus on landmark suitability. The results from this study revealed item recognition signals for non-landmark objects in PrC and landmarks in PhC. In Chapter 4, I focused specifically on face recognition to characterize the manner in which PrC codes item-recognition signals and to further explore the issue of category-specificity with independent functional localizer data. Results from this study indicate that item recognition signals in PrC can be distributed across voxels with directionally heterogeneous response profiles. Further, these data also revealed that the voxels comprising these patterns respond preferentially to faces under passive viewing conditions. Taken together, these findings suggest that item recognition signals are represented in a distributed, category-specific manner within both PrC and PhC.