Old-new ERP effects and remote memories: the late parietal effect is absent as recollection fails whereas the early mid-frontal effect persists as familiarity is retained

Dimitris Tsivilis, Kevin Allan, Jenna Roberts, Nicola Williams, John Joseph Downes, Wael El-Deredy

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Understanding the electrophysiological correlates of recognition memory processes has been a focus of research in recent years. This study investigated the effects of retention interval on recognition memory by comparing memory for objects encoded four weeks (remote) or 5 min (recent) before testing. In Experiment 1, event related potentials (ERPs) were acquired while participants performed a yes-no recognition memory task involving remote, recent and novel objects. Relative to correctly rejected new items, remote and recent hits showed an attenuated frontal negativity from 300–500 ms post-stimulus. This effect, also known as the FN400, has been previously associated with familiarity memory. Recent and remote recognition ERPs did not differ from each other at this time-window. By contrast, recent but not remote recognition showed increased parietal positivity from around 500 ms post-stimulus. This late parietal effect (LPE), which is considered a correlate of recollection-related processes, also discriminated between recent and remote memories. A second, behavioral experiment confirmed that remote memories unlike recent memories were based almost exclusively on familiarity. These findings support the idea that the FN400 and LPE are indices of familiarity and recollection memory, respectively and show that remote and recent memories are functionally and anatomically distinct.
Original languageEnglish
Article number00532
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2015



  • recognition memory
  • event-related potentials
  • FN400
  • LPE
  • episodic memory

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