Neuroimaging has consistently shown engagement of the prefrontal cortex during episodic memory tasks, but the functional relevance of this metabolic/hemodynamic activation in memory processing is still to be determined. We used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to transiently interfere with either left or right prefrontal brain activity during the encoding or retrieval of pictures showing complex scenes. We found that the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) was crucial for the retrieval of the encoded pictorial information, whereas the left DLPFC was involved in encoding operations. This 'interference' approach allowed us to establish whether a cortical area activated by a memory task actually contributes to behavioral performance.
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