Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 233, Issue 6, pp 1963–1975 | Cite as

The neural correlates of correctly rejecting lures during memory retrieval: the role of item relatedness

  • Caitlin R. Bowman
  • Nancy A. Dennis
Research Article


Successful memory retrieval is predicated not only on recognizing old information, but also on correctly rejecting new information (lures) in order to avoid false memories. Correctly rejecting lures is more difficult when they are perceptually or semantically related to information presented at study as compared to when lures are distinct from previously studied information. This behavioral difference suggests that the cognitive and neural basis of correct rejections differs with respect to the relatedness between lures and studied items. The present study sought to identify neural activity that aids in suppressing false memories by examining the network of brain regions underlying correct rejection of related and unrelated lures. Results showed neural overlap in the right hippocampus and anterior parahippocampal gyrus associated with both related and unrelated correct rejections, indicating that some neural regions support correctly rejecting lures regardless of their semantic/perceptual characteristics. Direct comparisons between related and unrelated correct rejections showed that unrelated correct rejections were associated with greater activity in bilateral middle and inferior temporal cortices, regions that have been associated with categorical processing and semantic labels. Related correct rejections showed greater activation in visual and lateral prefrontal cortices, which have been associated with perceptual processing and retrieval monitoring. Thus, while related and unrelated correct rejections show some common neural correlates, related correct rejections are driven by greater perceptual processing whereas unrelated correct rejections show greater reliance on salient categorical cues to support quick and accurate memory decisions.


Episodic memory fMRI Novelty detection Retrieval Medial temporal lobes 



Thanks to the Penn State Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Imaging Center (SLEIC), 3T MRI Facility. Thanks to Courtney Allen, Christina Johnson, Kristina Peterson, Avery Rizio, and Indira Turney for helpful comments throughout the writing process. Thanks to Simon Vandekar for assistance with data collection and analysis. This research was supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant BCS1025709 awarded to N.A.D. and was conducted, while N.A.D. was an AFAR Research Grant recipient from the American Federation for Aging Research.

Supplementary material

221_2015_4268_MOESM1_ESM.doc (76 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 76 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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