Examining ERP correlates of recognition memory: Evidence of accurate source recognition without recollection

Richard J. Addante, Charan Ranganath, Andrew P. Yonelinas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Recollection is typically associated with high recognition confidence and accurate source memory. However, subjects sometimes make accurate source memory judgments even for items that are not confidently recognized, and it is not known whether these responses are based on recollection or some other memory process. In the current study, we measured event related potentials (ERPs) while subjects made item and source memory confidence judgments in order to determine whether recollection supported accurate source recognition responses for items that were not confidently recognized. In line with previous studies, we found that recognition memory was associated with two ERP effects: an early on-setting FN400 effect, and a later parietal old-new effect [late positive component (LPC)], which have been associated with familiarity and recollection, respectively. The FN400 increased gradually with item recognition confidence, whereas the LPC was only observed for highly confident recognition responses. The LPC was also related to source accuracy, but only for items that had received a high confidence item recognition response; accurate source judgments to items that were less confidently recognized did not exhibit the typical ERP correlate of recollection or familiarity, but rather showed a late, broadly distributed negative ERP difference. The results indicate that accurate source judgments of episodic context can occur even when recollection fails.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-450
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • Episodic memory
  • Event-related potentials
  • Familiarity
  • Recollection
  • Source memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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