The contribution of familiarity to recognition memory is a function of test format when using similar foils

Ellen Migo, Daniela Montaldi, Kenneth A. Norman, Joel Quamme, Andrew Mayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Patient Y.R., who suffered hippocampal damage that disrupted recollection but not familiarity, was impaired on a yes/no (YN) object recognition memory test with similar foils. However, she was not impaired on a forced-choice corresponding (FCC) version of the test that paired targets with corresponding similar foils (Holdstock et al., 2002). This dissociation is explained by the Complementary Learning Systems (CLS) neural-network model (Norman O'Reilly, 2003) if recollection is impaired but familiarity is preserved. The CLS model also predicts that participants relying exclusively on familiarity should be impaired on forced-choice noncorresponding (FCNC) tests, where targets are presented with foils similar to other targets. The present study tests these predictions for all three test formats (YN, FCC, FCNC) in normal participants using two variants of the remember/know procedure. As predicted, performance using familiarity alone was significantly worse than standard recognition on the YN and FCNC tests, but not on the FCC test. Recollection in the form of recall-to-reject was the major process driving YN recognition. This adds support to the interpretation of patient data, according to which hippocampal damage causes a recollection deficit that leads to poor performance on the YN test relative to FCC.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1198-1215
Number of pages18
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 10 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • General Psychology


  • Familiarity
  • Hippocampus
  • Recognition memory
  • Recollection
  • Remember/know

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