Components of episodic memory: the contribution of recollection and familiarity

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2001 Sep 29;356(1413):1363-74. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2001.0939.


The examination of recognition memory confidence judgements indicates that there are two separate components or processes underlying episodic memory. A model that accounts for these results is described in which a recollection process and a familiarity process are assumed to contribute to recognition memory performance. Recollection is assumed to reflect a threshold process whereby qualitative information about the study event is retrieved, whereas familiarity reflects a classical signal-detection process whereby items exceeding a familiarity response criterion are accepted as having been studied. Evidence from cognitive, neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies indicate that the model is in agreement with the existing recognition results, and indicate that recollection and familiarity are behaviourally, neurally and phenomenologically distinct memory retrieval processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*