The mesial temporal lobes are important for learning arbitrary associations. It has previously been demonstrated that left mesial temporal structures are involved in learning word pairs, but it is not yet known whether comparable lesions in the right temporal lobe impair visually mediated associative learning. Patients who had undergone left (n= 16) or right (n= 18) temporal lobectomy for relief of intractable epilepsy and healthy controls (n= 13) were administered two paired-associate learning tasks assessing their learning and memory of pairs of abstract designs or pairs of symbols in unique locations. Both patient groups had deficits in learning the designs, but only the right temporal group was impaired in recognition. For the symbol location task, differences were not found in learning, but again a recognition deficit was found for the right temporal group. The findings implicate the mesial temporal structures in relational learning. They support a material-specific effect for recognition but not for learning and recall of arbitrary visual and visual-spatial associative information.
- Mesial temporal lobe
- Relational learning