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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

November 2000, Vol. 12, No. 6, Pages 965-976
(doi: 10.1162/08989290051137503)
© 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Retrieval Success is Accompanied by Enhanced Activation in Anterior Prefrontal Cortex During Recognition Memory: An Event-Related fMRI Study
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Neural regions associated with retrieval success were identified using event-related fMRI procedures and randomly ordered trials on a recognition memory test. Differences between hits and correct rejections (CRs) occurred in multiple regions, including bilateral anterior and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, bilateral inferior parietal cortex, and right superior parietal cortex (all hits > CRs), and right occipital cortex (CRs > hits). The hit > CR pattern is not compromised by time-on-task explanations because response latencies for correctly rejected words exceeded those for hits. Converging evidence for the claim that the hit > CR pattern identified neural correlates of retrieval success was obtained by unconfounding item history and retrieval success. That is, we implemented a third condition in which nonstudied words were presented, yet retrieval success was hypothesized to facilitate CRs of these lures. Specifically, when confronted with a familiar, yet nonstudied word, (e.g., nosedive after studying nosebleed and skydive), subjects might adopt a strategy whereby they recall the studied word(s) that gave rise to the familiarity (nosebleed, skydive) and thereby reject the lure. This method of instantiating retrieval success under conditions in which the target word had not been studied offers converging evidence for the claim that anterior-prefrontal cortex (among other regions) demonstrates enhanced activation during retrieval success.