Temporally and functionally dissociable retrieval processing operations revealed by event-related potentials

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Colleges, School and Institutes


In a pair of recent studies, frontally distributed event-related potential (ERP) indices of two distinct post-retrieval processes were identified. It has been proposed that one of these processes operates over any kinds of task relevant information in service of task demands, while the other operates selectively over recovered contextual (episodic) information. The experiment described here was designed to test this account, by requiring retrieval of different kinds of contextual information to that required in previous relevant studies. Participants heard words spoken in either a male or female voice at study and ERPs were acquired at test where all words were presented visually. Half of the test words had been spoken at study. Participants first made an old/new judgment, distinguishing via key press between studied and unstudied words. For words judged 'old', participants indicated the voice in which the word had been spoken at study, and their confidence (high/low) in the voice judgment. There was evidence for only one of the two frontal old/new effects that had been identified in the previous studies. One possibility is that the ERP effect in previous studies that was tied specifically to recollection reflects processes operating over only some kinds of contextual information. An alternative is that the index reflects processes that are engaged primarily when there are few contextual features that distinguish between studied stimuli.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1751-60
Number of pages10
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Acoustic Stimulation, Adult, Analysis of Variance, Brain Mapping, Color, Data Interpretation, Statistical, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Female, Frontal Lobe, Humans, Judgment, Male, Mental Recall, Reaction Time, Voice, Young Adult