Offset-related brain activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex promotes long-term memory formation of verbal events

Angela Medvedeva, Miroslav Sirota, Saw Rebecca, Giorgio Fuggetta, Giulia Galli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent evidence suggests that brain activity following the offset of a stimulus during encoding contributes to long-term memory formation, however the exact mechanisms underlying offset-related encoding are still unclear. Here we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to investigate offset-related activity in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC). rTMS was administered at different points in time around stimulus offset while male and female participants encoded visually-presented words (first rTMS experiment) or pairs of words (second rTMS experiment) and the analyses focused on the effects of the stimulation on subsequent memory performance. The results show that
rTMS administered at the offset of the stimuli, but not during online encoding, disrupted subsequent memory performance. In the first experiment we show that rTMS specifically disrupted encoding mechanisms initiated by the offset of the stimuli rather than general, post-stimulus processes. In the second experiment, we show a robust decline in associative memory performance when rTMS was delivered at the offset of the word pairs, suggesting that offset-related encoding may contribute to the binding of information into an episodic memory trace. A meta-analysis conducted on the two studies and on a previously published dataset confirmed that the involvement of the left VLPFC in memory formation is initiated by the offset of the stimulus. The offset of the stimulus may represent an event boundary that promotes the reinstatement of the previously experienced event and episodic binding.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 1 Nov 2019

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