Maintaining a cautious state of mind during a recognition test: A large-scale fMRI study

Decision criterion is an important factor in recognition memory, determining the amount of evidence required to judge an item as previously encountered. For a typical recognition memory test involving the prior study of a set of items, a conservative criterion establishes a higher standard of evidence for recognition and designates fewer items as previously studied. In contrast, a liberal criterion establishes a lower standard of evidence and designates more items as previously studied. Therefore, the hit rate and the correct rejection rate on a recognition memory test can be affected by both the memory strength of the studied items and the criterion used to make that judgment. Yet most neuroimaging studies of the successful retrieval effect (a contrast between hits and correct rejections) fail to measure or consider decision criterion. The goal of the current fMRI study with ninety-five participants was to directly manipulate decision criteria on two tests of recognition memory by varying the likelihood of an item's prior occurrence. Our results indicate that regions of the lateral prefrontal and parietal cortex associated with successful retrieval are significantly more active when using conservative criteria than liberal criteria. Furthermore, our results reveal that activity in these regions associated with successful retrieval can be accounted for by individual differences in the conservativeness of the decision criterion above and beyond any differences in memory strength. These results expound on the role of cognitive control in recognition memory and the neural mechanisms that mediate this processing.

E. M. Aminoff, S. Freeman, D. Clewett, C. Tipper, A. Frithsen, A. Johnson, S. T. Grafton, and M. B. Miller
Volume: 67
Pages: 132-147
Date: January, 2015
ICB Affiliated Authors: Scott T Grafton, Michael B Miller