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Geyer, Thomas; Baumgartner, Florian; Müller, Hermann J.; Pollmann, Stefan (October 2012): Medial temporal lobe-dependent repetition suppression and enhancement due to implicit vs. explicit processing of individual repeated search displays. In: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Vol. 6, 272


Using visual search, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and patient studies have demonstrated that medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures differentiate repeated from novel displays-even when observers are unaware of display repetitions. This suggests a role for MTL in both explicit and, importantly, implicit learning of repeated sensory information (Greene et al., 2007). However, recent behavioral studies suggest, by examining visual search and recognition performance concurrently, that observers have explicit knowledge of at least some of the repeated displays (Geyer et al., 2010). The aim of the present fMRI study was thus to contribute new evidence regarding the contribution of MTL structures to explicit vs. implicit learning in visual search. It was found that MTL activation was increased for explicit and, respectively, decreased for implicit relative to baseline displays. These activation differences were most pronounced in left anterior parahippocampal cortex (aPHC), especially when observers were highly trained on there peated displays. The data are taken to suggest that explicit and implicit memory processes are linked within MTL structures, but expressed via functionally separable mechanisms (repetition-enhancement vs.-suppression). They further show that repetition effects in visual search would have to be investigated at the display level.