An event-related potential study of recognition memory with and without retrieval of source

Brain. 1996 Jun;119 ( Pt 3):889-905. doi: 10.1093/brain/119.3.889.


Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded during the test phase of a recognition memory task in two experiments. In both experiments subjects made initial old/new judgements to visually presented words, and for words judged old, indicated in which of two voices (male/female) the words had been heard at study. In the second experiment only subjects had the option to signal that they were uncertain about the status of a test word. Two positive-going ERP effects differentiated the ERPs evoked by correctly recognized old words from those evoked by words correctly judged new. The two effects differed in their scalp topography and time course, and were both of greater magnitude in the ERPs evoked by recognized words for which a correct voice judgement was made. The findings are consistent with the view that multiple neural systems underlie the ability to recognize an item and to recall its study context. However, the findings offer little support for the view, articulated in certain 'dual-process' models of recognition memory, that recognition judgements with and without retrieval of study context depend upon qualitatively different memory processes or systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Behavior / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electrooculography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reading