Goal- and retrieval-dependent activity in the striatum during memory recognition

Neuropsychologia. 2015 Jun;72:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.04.011. Epub 2015 Apr 11.


The striatum has been associated with successful memory retrieval but the precise functional link still remains unclear. One hypothesis is that striatal activity reflects an active evaluation process of the retrieval outcome dependent on the current behavioral goals rather than being a consequence of memory reactivation. We have recently shown that the striatum also correlates with confidence in memory recognition, which could reflect high subjective value ascribed to high certainty decisions. To examine whether striatal activity during memory recognition reflects subjective value indeed, we conducted an fMRI study using a recognition memory paradigm in which the participants rated not only the recognition confidence but also indicated the pleasantness associated with the previous memory retrieval. The results demonstrated a high positive correlation between confidence and pleasantness both on the behavioral and brain activation level particularly in the striatum. As almost all of variance in the striatal confidence signal could be explained by experienced pleasantness, this part of the striatal memory recognition response probably corresponds to greater subjective value of high confidence responses. While perceived oldness was also strongly correlated with striatal activity, this activation pattern was clearly distinct from that associated with confidence and pleasantness and thus could not be explained by higher subjective value to detect "old" items. Together, these results show that at least two independent processes contribute to striatal activation in recognition memory: a more flexible evaluation response dependent on context and goals captured by memory confidence and a potentially retrieval-related response captured by perceived oldness.

Keywords: Confidence; Metamemory; Perceived oldness; Retrieval success; Subjective value; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Corpus Striatum / blood supply
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Echo-Planar Imaging
  • Female
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen