Medial thalamic stroke and its impact on familiarity and recollection
eLife. 2017-08-24; 6:
Models of recognition memory have postulated that the mammillo-thalamic tract (MTT)/anterior thalamic nucleus (AN) complex would be critical for recollection while the Mediodorsal nucleus (MD) of the thalamus would support familiarity and indirectly also be involved in recollection (Aggleton et al., 2011). 12 patients with left thalamic stroke underwent a neuropsychological assessment, three verbal recognition memory tasks assessing familiarity and recollection each using different procedures and a high-resolution structural MRI. Patients showed poor recollection on all three tasks. In contrast, familiarity was spared in each task. No patient had significant AN lesions. Critically, a subset of 5 patients had lesions of the MD without lesions of the MTT. They also showed impaired recollection but preserved familiarity. Recollection is therefore impaired following MD damage, but familiarity is not. This suggests that models of familiarity, which assign a critical role to the MD, should be reappraised.