AN EXAMINATION OF TASK AND RESPONSE INFLUENCES ON EVENT-RELATED POTENTIAL (ERP) CORRELATES OF RECOLLECTION AND FAMILIARITY
Harker, Kenneth Troy
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Cognitive Event-Related Potential (ERP) recordings have been used to study the neurophysiological correlates of recognition memory. Previous ERP research has demonstrated that on tasks of recognition memory, Old items elicit ERP responses that are more positive in electrical amplitude than the ERP responses elicited by New items, commonly referred to as ERP Old/New positivity effects. ERP Old/New positivity effects have been used to make inferences about cognitive processes mediating recognition memory, such as the early frontal Old/New positivity effect that has been associated with familiarity and the late parietal Old/New positivity effect that has been associated with recollection. These effects have been demonstrated different types of stimuli and on different types of recognition memory tasks. However, a systematic comparison of ERP Old/New positivity effects across different recognition memory tasks is lacking, particularly with respect to Remote Long-term memory. This thesis asked how ERP Old/New positivity effects differ between tasks of Short-term, Recent Long-term, and Remote Long-term memory tasks for faces. Experiment 1 simulated the condition of limited overt communication skills by analyzing the brain responses to memory stimuli, regardless of the overt behavioural response from healthy, “honest” participants. Experiment 2 examined the ERP responses of healthy participants instructed to feign a memory impairment. ERP Old/New positivity effects similar to those described in the experimental ERP literature were observed on the Short-term and Remote Long-term memory tasks in both Experiments 1 and 2. However, response accuracy was lower than expected on the Recent Long-term task resulting in weak ERP results. A comparison of the ERP Old/New responses between the Honest Response (Experiment 1) and the Simulated Memory Malingering (Experiment 2) groups found that despite differing overt behavioural responses, the ERP Old/New responses remained similar. The results demonstrate a similar electrophysiological mechanism mediating Short-term, Recent Long-term, and Remote Long-term recognition memory ERP responses, despite the different neuroanatomical substrates that have been proposed these different types of memory. Although an improved measure of Recent Long-term memory is needed, the results of this thesis are promising and demonstrate that ERP recordings could provide an objective instrument for measuring recognition memory functioning in clinical settings.