Recollection and familiarity in aging individuals: Gaining insight into relationships with medial temporal lobe structural integrity

Hippocampus. 2017 Jun;27(6):692-701. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22725. Epub 2017 Apr 10.


Dual-process theories posit that two separate processes are involved in recognition, namely recollection and familiarity. Studies investigating the neuroanatomical substrates of these two processes have frequently revealed that, while recollection is functionally linked with the hippocampus, familiarity appears to be associated with perirhinal and/or entorhinal cortices integrity. Interestingly these regions are known to be sensitive to normal and neuropathological aging processes. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of aging on recollection and familiarity performance, as well as to investigate associations with the rate of false alarms. In older individuals, we further aimed to explore relationships between these recognition variables and structural integrity of the hippocampus and the entorhinal and perirhinal cortices. Younger (N = 56) and older (N = 59) adults were tested on a computerized recollection and familiarity task. In a separate session, older adults (N = 56) underwent a structural MRI. Hippocampal, entorhinal and perihinal cortices volumes were automatically segmented and then manually corrected to ensure validity of the volumetric assessment. Regional volumes were normalized for total intracranial volume. While the overall recognition performance did not significantly differ across groups, our results reveal a decrease in recollection, together with an increase in familiarity in older adults. The increase reliance on familiarity was significantly and positively associated with the rate of false alarms. In the older adult sample, significant positive associations were found between recollection estimates and normalized hippocampal volumes. The normalized total hippocampal volume accounted for 25% of the variance in recollection performance. No correlation was found between any recognition variables and perirhinal or entorhinal cortices volumes. Overall, our results suggest that the age-related impairment in recollection is linked with reduced hippocampal structural integrity.

Keywords: aging; familiarity; recollection; structural neuroimaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Young Adult

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