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Neuroimage. 2005 Aug 1;27(1):83-94.

Magnetoencephalographic correlates of different levels in subjective recognition memory.

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Department of Psychology, Brain Research Laboratory, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, 1010 Vienna, Austria.


In our current study we employed whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) to identify neurophysiological correlates (event-related fields, ERFs) of different phenomenologies in human recognition memory. Words which had previously been semantically processed were presented along with previously unstudied words. Via button presses, participants provided subjective indices of three forms of memory: confident recognition, familiarity-based recognition, and misclassification of previously presented items as new (no recognition, misses). Behavioral results revealed a clear distinction between confident recognition (shortest reaction times) and familiarity-based recognition and misses, respectively, and physiological data pointed to bilateral anterior and left anterior/central regions in which magnetic field patterns were directly related to word recognition from approximately 300 ms to 500 ms after word onset. In the context of the prevalent dual process controversy on the roles of familiarity and recollection in recognition memory, we first highlight that two operationalizations of recollection need to be differentiated: We argue that a strategic search for a particular contextual feature stands in clear contrast to the fast and incidental availability of some contextual feature and derive experimental and behavioral indicators for either form of recollection. These indicators are used to select from manifold cognitive neuroscientific work on recognition memory in order to further discuss the neurocognitive characteristics of incidental recollection in contrast to other forms of episodic memory.

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