It has been proposed that the hippocampus selectively supports retrieval of contextual associations, but an alternative view holds that the hippocampus supports strong memories regardless of whether they contain contextual information. We employed a memory test that combined the 'Remember/Know' and source memory procedures, which allowed test items to be segregated both by memory strength (recognition accuracy) and, separately, by the quality of the contextual information that could be retrieved (indexed by the accuracy/confidence of a source memory judgment). As measured by fMRI, retrieval-related hippocampal activity tracked the quality of retrieved contextual information and not memory strength. These findings are consistent with the proposal that the hippocampus supports contextual recollection rather than recognition memory more generally.
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