Neural correlates of memory retrieval during recognition memory and cued recall

M D Rugg, Thelma Cecilia Fletcher, Kevin Allan, C D Frith, R S Frackowiak, R J Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Citations (Scopus)


Regional brain activity, measured by H215O PET, was investigated during recognition memory and word-stem cued recall of words in order to compare the neural correlates of two components of memory retrieval-effort and success-as a function of task. For each task there was a baseline and two retrieval conditions. In one retrieval condition (zero density), none of the test items corresponded to words encoded in a preceding study phase. Differences in activity between this condition and the baseline were employed to characterize the neural correlates of retrieval effort in each task. In the other retrieval condition (high density), 80% of the test items had been studied previously. Differences in brain activity between this condition and the zero-density condition were taken to represent the neural correlates of successful retrieval. The principal findings concern the right anterior prefrontal cortex, a region demonstrated previously to be active during episodic retrieval. Relative to baseline, this region showed no evidence of activation in the zero-density condition of the recognition task, but did show enhanced activity in the equivalent condition of the cued-recall task. In contrast, relative to the zero-density condition, the high-density condition was associated with increased right prefrontal activity during recognition, but reduced activity during cued recall. It is proposed that the right prefrontal cortex supports cognitive processes that operate on information retrieved in response to a test item and that these processes contribute to the evaluation of whether the information represents an appropriate prior episode.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-273
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1998


  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Mental Recall
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prefrontal Cortex
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


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