The Complementary Learning Systems (CLS) theory provides a powerful framework for considering the acquisition, consolidation and generalisation of new knowledge. We tested this proposed neural division of labour in adults through an investigation of the consolidation and long-term retention of newly-learned native vocabulary with post-learning functional neuroimaging. Newly-learned items were compared to two conditions: (i) previously known items to highlight the similarities and differences with established vocabulary; and (ii) unknown/untrained items to provide a control for non-specific perceptual and motor-speech output. Consistent with the CLS, retrieval of newly-learned items was supported by a combination of regions associated with episodic memory (including left hippocampus) and the language-semantic areas that support established vocabulary (left inferior frontal gyrus and left anterior temporal lobe). Furthermore, there was a shifting division of labour across these two networks in line with the items’ consolidation status; faster naming was associated with more activation of language-semantic areas and lesser activation of episodic memory regions. Hippocampal activity during naming predicted more than half the variation in naming retention six months later.
|Early online date||7 Dec 2021|
|Publication status||Published - 7 Dec 2021|