A new semantic list learning task to probe functioning of the Papez circuit

Michael Paul Schallmo, Michelle T. Kassel, Sara L. Weisenbach, Sara J. Walker, Leslie M. Guidotti-Breting, Julia A. Rao, Kathleen E. Hazlett, Ciaran M. Considine, Gurpriya Sethi, Naalti Vats, Marta Pecina, Robert C. Welsh, Monica N. Starkman, Bruno Giordani, Scott A. Langenecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: List learning tasks are powerful clinical tools for studying memory, yet have been relatively underutilized within the functional imaging literature. This limits understanding of regions such as the Papez circuit that support memory performance in healthy, nondemented adults. Method: The current study characterized list learning performance in 40 adults who completed a semantic list learning task (SLLT) with a Brown-Peterson manipulation during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Cued recall with semantic cues and recognition memory were assessed after imaging. Internal reliability, convergent, and discriminant validity were evaluated. Results: Subjects averaged 38% accuracy in recall (62% for recognition), with primacy but no recency effects observed. Validity and reliability were demonstrated by showing that the SLLT was correlated with the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), but not with executive functioning tests, and by high intraclass correlation coefficient across lists for recall (.91). fMRI measurements during encoding (vs. silent rehearsal) revealed significant activation in bilateral hippocampus, parahippocampus, and bilateral anterior and posterior cingulate cortex. Post hoc analyses showed increased activation in anterior and middle hippocampus, subgenual cingulate, and mammillary bodies specific to encoding. In addition, increasing age was positively associated with increased activation in a diffuse network, particularly frontal cortex and specific Papez regions for correctly recalled words. Gender differences were specific to left inferior and superior frontal cortex. Conclusions: This is a clinically relevant list learning task that can be used in studies of groups for which the Papez circuit is damaged or disrupted, in mixed or crossover studies at imaging and clinical sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-833
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 14 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Hippocampus
  • Imaging
  • List learning
  • Memory
  • Papez circuit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'A new semantic list learning task to probe functioning of the Papez circuit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this