Differential neural activity in the recognition of old versus new events: an activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis

Hum Brain Mapp. 2013 Apr;34(4):814-36. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21474. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


This study presents a meta-analysis comparing hit and correct rejection (CR) conditions across 48 fMRI studies. Old/new (hit > CR) effects associated most consistently with (1) components of the default-mode network, including the left angular gyrus, bilateral precuneus, and bilateral posterior cingulate regions, which may support the mental re-experiencing of an old event, or ecphory; (2) components of the cognitive-control network, involving the left dorsolateral and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and bilateral intraparietal sulcus regions, which may mediate memory and non-memory control functions; and (3) the caudate nucleus, a key part of the brain's reward system that may support the satisfaction tied to target-detection. Direct comparisons of old/new effects between item versus source retrieval and "remember" versus "know" retrieval yielded three main sets of findings. First, default-mode network regions showed greater old/new effects in conditions associated with richer ecphoric processing. Second, cognitive-control network regions showed greater old/new effects in conditions associated with a greater demand for strategic-retrieval processing. Third, the caudate nucleus showed greater old/new effects in conditions tied to greater confidence in target-detection. New/old (CR > hit) effects most strongly associated with the bilateral medial temporal lobe, possibly reflecting greater encoding-related activity for new than for old items, and the right posterior middle temporal regions, possibly reflecting repetition-related neural priming for old items. In conclusion, neural activity distinguishing old from new events comprises an ensemble of multiple memory-specific activities, including encoding, retrieval, and priming, as well as multiple types of more general cognitive activities, including default-mode, cognitive-control, and reward processing.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Verbal Behavior