Contributions of prefrontal cortex to recognition memory: Electrophysiological and behavioral evidence

Diane Swick, Robert T. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


To clarify the involvement of prefrontal cortex in episodic memory, behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) measures of recognition were examined in patients with dorsolateral prefrontal lesions. In controls, recognition accuracy and the ERP old-new effect declined with increasing retention intervals. Although frontal patients showed a higher false-alarm rate to new words, their hit rate to old words and ERP old-new effect were intact, suggesting that recognition processes were not fundamentally altered by prefrontal damage. The opposite behavioral pattern was observed in patients with hippocampal lesions: a normal false-alarm rate and a precipitous decline in hit rate at long lags. The intact ERP effect and the change in response bias during recognition suggest that frontal patients exhibited a deficit in strategic processing or postretrieval monitoring, in contrast to the more purely mnemonic deficit shown by hippocampal patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-170
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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