Recognition memory: opposite effects of hippocampal damage on recollection and familiarity


A major controversy in memory research concerns whether recognition is subdivided into distinct cognitive mechanisms of recollection and familiarity that are supported by different neural substrates. Here we developed a new associative recognition protocol for rats that enabled us to show that recollection is reduced, whereas familiarity is increased following hippocampal damage. These results provide strong evidence that these processes are qualitatively different and that the hippocampus supports recollection and not familiarity.

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Figure 1: Testing associative recognition in rats.
Figure 2: ROC functions for associative recognition.


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We thank C. Ergorul, L. Devito and N. Simuro for help with behavioral testing, and L. Ho and S. Hattori for assistance with histological processing. This work was supported by US National Institute of Mental Health grants MH52090 and MH71702.

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M.M.S. designed and conducted the experiment and data analyses, and wrote the manuscript. N.J.F. consulted on data analyses, and A.P.Y. consulted on data analyses and manuscript preparation. C.B.O. participated in conducting the experiment. H.E. supervised the project and participated in writing the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Howard Eichenbaum.

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Sauvage, M., Fortin, N., Owens, C. et al. Recognition memory: opposite effects of hippocampal damage on recollection and familiarity. Nat Neurosci 11, 16–18 (2008).

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