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Event related brain potentials and illusory memories: The effects of differential encoding

Event related brain potentials and illusory memories: The effects of differential encoding

Authors: 
Nessler D., Mecklinger A. & Penney T.B.
Year: 
2001
Journal: 
Cognitive Brain Research
Abstract: 

This study investigates eventrelatedpotentials (ERP) elicited by true and false recognition using words from different semantic categories. In Experiment 1, ERPs for true and false recognition were more positive than for correctly rejected NEW words starting around 300 ms after test word presentation (old/new ERP effects). ERP waveforms for true and false recognition revealed equal early (300–500 ms) fronto-medial old/new ERP effects, reflecting similar familiarity processes, but smaller parietal old/new ERP effects (500–700 ms) for false relative to true recognition, suggesting less active recollection. Interestingly, a subsequent performance based group comparison showed equivalent old/new ERP effects for true and false recognition for participants with high rates of false recognition. In contrast, false recognition failed to elicit an old/new ERP effect in a group with low false recognition rates. To examine whether this between group difference was driven by the differential use of information that studied words and semantically related non studied test words (LURE) have in common (conceptual similarity), we manipulated encoding strategy in Experiment 2. When encoding focused on conceptual similarity, comparable ERP-effects for true and false recognition were obtained, suggesting that both forms of recognition were equally based on familiarity and recollection processes. Conversely, when encoding was focused on item specific features, differences in brain activity for true and false recognition were obtained. The ERP data indicate that, in addition to the false recognition rate, strategic processes during encoding, such as processing conceptual features, are an important factor in determining electrophysiological differences between true and false recognition.

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