Lateralized changes in regional cerebral blood flow during performance of verbal and facial recognition tasks: correlations with performance and "effort".
Functional neuroimaging has been used to investigate neural substrates of mnemonic processes, and cerebral blood flow (CBF) measures have been sensitive to activation with memory tasks. Studies of memory with two-dimensional 133Xenon clearance techniques found that word and face recognition tasks produced contralateral CBF changes in mid-temporal cortical regions. This study replicated the activation paradigm, expanding to the three-dimensional resolution of positron emission tomography (PET). Word and face recognition, and a control baseline task were administered to 19 healthy right-handed volunteers (11 men, 8 women) during successive 10 min PET 15O-water measures of CBF. Quantitative CBF rates were calculated with the arterial input function and the equilibrium model. Redistributions of blood flow were compared across tasks-using both absolute and relative (region/ whole brain) CBF. Replicating the 133Xenon clearance findings, CBF was "appropriately" lateralized during task performance (left-right for words > left-right for faces) in the mid-temporal region. Contrary to predictions, the recognition tasks did not activate expected mesolimbic or prefrontal areas. The task-induced CBF changes also correlated with performance. Bilateral CBF in mid-temporal and parahippocampal gyrus regions of interest correlated with the ability to correctly identify word targets (sensitivity). Left-lateralized CBF in the amygdala and hippocampus correlated with better word sensitivity as well as specificity (ability to correctly reject foils). Complementally, right-lateralized CBF in the parahippocampal gyrus correlated with better face specificity performance. In addition, left-lateralized CBF in the amygdala and right-lateralized CBF in the parahippocampal gyrus and hippocampus correlated with "mental effort" indices (task performance relative to basal ability) for word and face memory tasks, respectively. Thus, whereas this recognition task showed the expected lateralized increase in the mid-temporal region and not in frontal and limbic areas, lateralized activation in some of these areas was associated with better performance. Exploratory analyses on other regions showed lateralized changes in one additional temporal region, the occipital-temporal, and several limbic regions.