Functional-Neuroanatomic Correlates of Recollection: Implications for Models of Recognition Memory

Itamar Kahn, Lila Davachi, Anthony D. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recognition decisions can be based on familiarity, the sense that an item was encountered previously (item memory), and on recollection, the conscious recovery of contextual information surrounding a previous encounter with the item (e.g., source memory). Recognition with recollection is thought to depend on multiple mechanisms, induding prefrontal "control" processes that guide retrieval and recapitulation mechanisms that reactivate posterior neocortical representations that were present at encoding. However, uncertainty remains regarding the precise nature of prefrontal contributions to recollection and the selectivity of recapitulation to veridical recollection. The present event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study sought to examine whether regions showing "old-new" effects support processes sensitive to recollection success or recollection attempt and whether recapitulation of neocortical representations emerge during veridical recollection as well as during false recognition (i.e., false alarms) or whether false recognition resembles familiarity-based responding. Results revealed that multiple left prefrontal cortical regions were engaged during attempts to recollect previous contextual (source) details, regardless of the nature of the to-be-recollected details and of source recollection outcome (successful vs unsuccessful). Recapitulation effects were observed in regions sensitive to the encoding task, suggesting that veridical recollection entails the reactivation of processes or representations present during encoding. Importantly, in contrast to leading models of recognition memory, false alarms also appeared to be based partially on recollection, as revealed through false recapitulation effects. Implications for neural and cognitive models of recognition are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4172-4180
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 28 2004


  • Declarative memory
  • Episodic memory
  • Explicit memory
  • Neuroimaging
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Recapitulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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