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Neuron. 2006 Feb 2;49(3):459-66.

The hippocampus supports both the recollection and the familiarity components of recognition memory.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) has been used to investigate the component processes of recognition memory. Some studies with this technique have been taken to indicate that the hippocampus selectively supports the process of recollection, whereas adjacent cortex in the parahippocampal gyrus supports the process of familiarity. We analyzed ROC data from young adults, memory-impaired patients with limited hippocampal lesions, and age-matched controls. The shape of the ROC changed in similar ways from asymmetric to symmetric, as a function of the strength of memory (strong to weak) in both the young adults and the patients. Moreover, once overall memory strength was similar, the shape of the patient ROC was asymmetric and matched the control ROC. These results suggest that the component processes that determine the shape of the ROC are operative in the absence of the hippocampus, and they argue against the idea that the hippocampus selectively supports the recollection process.

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