Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Decisions regarding whether an item has been previously encountered are typically accompanied by one of two distinct forms of subjective awareness: either a general sense of familiarity, or conscious recollection of specific details from a prior study episode. To examine the neurophysiological concomitants of these different types of internal experience, event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded while subjects engaged in a modified recognition memory procedure that required them to describe their subjective response during each testtrial. Stimuli that evoked recollection were accompanied by waveforms distinct from those that evoked only a sense of familiarity, and waveforms for both categories of correctly classified old items differed from correctly rejected distractor items and incorrectly classified (missed) studied items. These ERP responses are interpreted with respect to current knowledge concerning the neural structures and processes intimately involved in the capacity to engage in recollection.