Neural correlates of remembering/knowing famous people: An event-related fMRI study

Ekaterina Denkova, Anne Botzung, Lilianne Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations


It has been suggested that knowledge about some famous people depends on both a generic semantic component and an autobiographical component [Westmacott, R., & Moscovitch, M. (2003). The contribution of autobiographical significance to semantic memory. Memory and Cognition, 31, 761-774]. The neuropsychological studies of semantic dementia (SD) and Alzheimer disease (AD) demonstrated that the two aspects are very likely to be mediated by different brain structures, with the episodic component being highly dependent upon the integrity of the medial temporal lobe (MTL) [Westmacott, R., Black, S. E., Freedman, M., & Moscovitch, M. (2004). The contribution of autobiographical significance to semantic memory: Evidence from Alzheimer's disease, semantic dementia, and amnesia. Neuropsychologia, 42, 25-48]. Using an fMRI design in healthy participants, we aimed: (i) to investigate the pattern of brain activations sustaining the autobiographical and the semantic aspects of knowledge about famous persons. Moreover, (ii) we examined if the stimulus material (face/name) influences the lateralisation of the cerebral networks. Our findings suggested that different patterns of activation corresponded to the presence or absence of personal significance linked to semantic knowledge; MTL was engaged only in the former case. Although choice of stimulus material did not influence the hemispheric lateralisation in "classical" terms, it did play a role in engaging different cerebral regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2783-2791
Number of pages9
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 11 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • Autobiographical significance
  • Celebrities
  • Face/name
  • Neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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