Previous work suggested a differential contribution of prefrontal cortex (PFC) to successful encoding depending on the stimulus material. Here, we tested the hypothesis that encoding of words preferentially involves the left PFC, while encoding of nonverbal items (abstract shapes) relies on the right PFC. We used an experimental design that evaluated encoding of both words and abstract shapes in the same healthy volunteers. A transient virtual lesion of the left or the right PFC was elicited with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) while subjects memorized verbal and nonverbal items. We found that encoding of verbal material was disrupted by left PFC stimulation, whereas encoding of nonverbal material was disrupted by right PFC stimulation. These results demonstrate a functionally relevant lateralization of prefrontal contribution for verbal and nonverbal memory encoding.
- Episodic memory
- Frontal cortex
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience