The role of the left inferior frontal gyrus in episodic encoding of faces: An interference study by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Despite extensive research on face recognition, only a few studies have examined the integration of perceptual features with semantic, biographical, and episodic information. In order to address this issue, we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to target the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and the left occipital face area (OFA) during a face recognition task. rTMS was delivered during the encoding of "context" faces (i.e., linked to an occupation, e.g., "lawyer") and "no-context" faces (i.e., linked to a nonword pattern, e.g., "xxxx"). Subjects were then asked to perform a recognition memory task. Accuracy at retrieval showed a mild decrease after left OFA stimulation, whereas rTMS over the left IFG drastically compromised memory performance selectively for no-context faces. On the other hand, absence of rTMS interference on context faces might be due either to the fact that pairing an occupation to a face makes the memory trace stronger, therefore less susceptible to rTMS interference, or to a different functional specificity of the left IFG subregions.