Dissociating the neural correlates of item and context memory: an ERP study of face recognition.
We investigated the neural correlates of item and context retrieval using event-related potentials (ERPs). Participants studied unfamiliar faces with happy or neutral expressions, and at test, they decided whether test faces were studied in the same or in a different expression, or were new. The parietal ERP effect, which is hypothesized to indirectly reflect medial-temporal lobe (MTL) function, was sensitive to item retrieval, whereas the frontal ERP effect, which is thought to reflect prefrontal cortex (PFC) function, was sensitive to context retrieval. Converging with lesion, functional neuroimaging (PET and fMRI), and ERP evidence, these results support the notion that item retrieval is primarily associated with MTL function whereas context retrieval is primarily associated by PFC function.
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