G. MacKenzie, D. I. Donaldson



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In recognition memory research, a tension exists between dual-process and single-process models of episodic retrieval. Dual-process models propose that ‘familiarity’ assessment and the ‘recollection’ of contextual information are independent processes, while single-process models claim that one common process supports retrieval. Event-related potentials (ERPs) have been used to show dissociations between the mid frontal and the left parietal ERP old/new effects, which have been associated with familiarity and recollection, respectively. While much ERP evidence favours dual-process theory, Yovel and Paller [Yovel, G., pallet, K.A., 2004. The neural basis of the butcher-on-the-bus phenomenon: when a face seems familiar but is not remembered. NeuroImage 21, 789-800] used faces as retrieval cues to demonstrate that posterior old/new effects index both familiarity and recollection, a finding consistent with single-process models. Here we present evidence supporting Yovel and Paller’s claim that a posterior old/ new effect indexes familiarity for faces, along with a novel finding that recollection is associated with an anterior old/new effect. Importantly, and in contrast to Yovel and Pallet, the old/new effects associated with familiarity and recollection were topographically dissociable, consistent with a dual-process view of recognition memory. The neural correlates of familiarity and recollection identified here for faces appear to be different from those typically observed, suggesting that the ERP old/new effects associated with episodic recognition are not the same under all circumstances. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.