Distinguishing the precision of spatial recollection from its success: Evidence from healthy aging and unilateral mesial temporal lobe resection

Neuropsychologia. 2018 Oct;119:101-106. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2018.07.035. Epub 2018 Aug 4.


Successful episodic recollection can vary in the precision of the information recalled. The hypothesis that recollection precision requires functional neuroanatomical contributions distinct from those required for recollection success remains controversial. Some findings in individuals with hippocampal lesions have indicated that precision is dependent on the hippocampus. However, other neuroimaging and lesion studies have implicated regions outside of the mesial temporal lobe (MTL) in precision, such as parietal cortex. To further elucidate distinctions of recollection precision versus success, we examined whether they were differentially sensitive to aging and to unilateral MTL lesions. Precision and success were measured using a novel task that required memory for item-location associations across different spatial contexts. We found impairments in recollection precision, but not success, in older adults (59-80 years) relative to younger adults (18-33 years). Recollection precision was also selectively impaired in individuals with unilateral MTL resections made to treat refractory epilepsy. Moreover, recollection precision was significantly worse when resections included the hippocampus compared to when only non-hippocampal MTL tissue was resected. These findings suggest that the MTL is critically involved in the high-resolution binding required to support spatial recollection precision, and thus provide evidence for functional neuroanatomical differences between recollection success and precision.

Keywords: Context; Familiarity; Graded recollection; Memory impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognitive Aging / physiology
  • Cognitive Aging / psychology
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / psychology
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy / surgery
  • Healthy Aging / physiology*
  • Healthy Aging / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology
  • Spatial Memory / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Young Adult