Binding deficits in visual short-term memory in patients with temporal lobe lobectomy.
Zokaei N., Nour MM., Sillence A., Drew D., Adcock J., Stacey R., Voets N., Sen A., Husain M.
Classical views of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) have established that it plays a crucial role in long-term memory (LTM). Here we demonstrate, in a sample of patients who have undergone anterior temporal lobectomy for the treatment of pharmacoresistant epilepsy, that the MTL additionally plays a specific, causal role in short-term memory (STM). Patients (n=22) and age-matched healthy control participants (n=26) performed a STM task with a sensitive continuous report measure. This paradigm allowed us to examine recall memory for object identity, location and object-location binding, independently on a trial-by-trial basis. Our findings point to a specific involvement of MTL in object-location binding, but, crucially, not retention of either object identity or location. Therefore the MTL appears to perform a specific computation: binding disparate features that belong to a memory. These results echo findings from previous studies, which have identified a role for the MTL in relational binding for LTM, and support the proposal that MTL regions perform such a function for both STM and LTM, independent of the retention duration. Furthermore, these findings and the methodology employed here may provide a simple, sensitive and clinically valuable means to test memory dysfunuction in MTL disorders.