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Conscious Cogn. 2010 Sep;19(3):816-28. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.06.023. Epub 2010 Aug 5.

ROC in animals: uncovering the neural substrates of recollection and familiarity in episodic recognition memory.

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  • 1Functional Architecture of Memory unit, Mercator Research Group, Faculty of Medecine, Ruhr University Bochum, Universitätsstraße 150, 44 801 Bochum, Germany.


It is a consensus that familiarity and recollection contribute to episodic recognition memory. However, it remains controversial whether familiarity and recollection are qualitatively distinct processes supported by different brain regions, or whether they reflect different strengths of the same process and share the same support. In this review, I discuss how adapting standard human recognition memory paradigms to rats, performing circumscribed brain lesions and using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) methods contributed to solve this controversy. First, I describe the validation of the animal ROC paradigms and report evidence that familiarity and recollection are distinct processes in intact rats. Second, I report results from rats with hippocampal dysfunction which confirm this finding and lead to the conclusion that the hippocampus supports recollection but not familiarity. Finally, I describe a recent study focusing on the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) that investigates the contribution of areas upstream of the hippocampus to recollection and familiarity.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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