Retrieval orientation describes the modulation in the processing of retrieval cues by the nature of the targeted material in memory. Retrieval orientation is usually investigated by analyzing the cortical responses to new (unstudied) material when different memory contents are targeted. This approach avoids confounding effects of retrieval success. We investigated the neural correlates of retrieval orientation in reality monitoring with event-related potentials (ERPs) and assessed the impact of retrieval accuracy on obtained ERP measures. 32 subjects studied visually presented object names that were followed either by a picture of that object (perceived condition) or by the instruction to mentally generate such a picture (imagine condition). Subsequently, subjects had to identify object names of one study condition and reject object names of the second study condition together with newly presented object names. The data analysis showed that object names were more accurately identified when they had been presented in the perceived condition. ERPs to new items varied depending on the targeted material: From 600-1100 ms after stimulus representation, ERPs were more positive at frontal electrode sites when object names from the imagine condition were targeted. The analysis of response-locked ERP data revealed an additional effect at posterior electrode sites, with more negative ERPs shortly after response onset when items from the imagine condition were targeted. The ERP effect at frontal electrode sites, but not at posterior electrode sites was modulated by memory accuracy, with stronger effects in subjects who had lower memory accuracy for items of the imagine condition. The findings are suggestive for a contribution of frontal brain areas to retrieval orientation processes in reality monitoring and indicate that neural correlates of retrieval orientation can be modulated by retrieval effort, with stronger activation of these correlates with increasing task demands.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- event-related potentials
- strategic retrieval processing
- source monitoring
- late posterior negativity (LPN)
- Episodic memory