Dissociable neural correlates for familiarity and recollection during the encoding and retrieval of pictures

Audrey Duarte, Charan Ranganath, Laurel Winward, Dustin Hayward, Robert T. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations


Results from behavioral studies have supported the idea that recognition memory can be supported by at least two different processes, recollection and familiarity. However, it remains unclear whether these two forms of memory reflect neurally distinct processes. Furthermore, it is unclear whether recollection and familiarity can be best conceived as differing primarily in terms of retrieval processing, or whether they additionally differ at encoding. To address these issues, we used event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to monitor neural correlates of familiarity and recollection at both encoding and retrieval. Participants studied pictures of objects in two types of study blocks and subsequently made remember-know and source memory judgments during retrieval. Results showed that, during encoding, neural correlates of subsequent familiarity and recollection onsetted in parallel, but exhibited differences in scalp topography and time course. Subsequent familiarity-based recognition was associated with a left-lateralized enhanced positivity and observed at anterior scalp sites from 300 to 450 ms, whereas subsequent recollection was associated with a topographically distinct right-lateralized positivity at anterior scalp sites from 300 to 450 ms and bilateral activity from 450 to 600 ms. During retrieval, neural correlates of familiarity emerged earlier than correlates of recollection. Familiarity was associated with an enhanced positivity at frontopolar scalp sites from 150 to 450 ms, whereas recollection was associated with positive ERP modulations over bilateral frontal (300-600 ms) and parietal (450-800 ms) sites. These results demonstrate that familiarity and recollection reflect the outcome of neurally distinct memory processes at both encoding and retrieval.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Encoding
  • Episodic
  • ERP
  • Familiarity
  • Know
  • Medial Temporal
  • Memory
  • Parietal
  • Prefrontal
  • Recognition
  • Recollection
  • Remember
  • Retrieval
  • Source

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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