Recall-to-reject: Aging effects on the neural correlates of recollection rejection

Open Access
Bowman, Caitlin Rose
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 02, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Nancy Anne Coulter Dennis, Dissertation Advisor
  • Reginald Adams Jr., Committee Member
  • Kathyrn Suzanne Scherf, Committee Member
  • Martin John Sliwinski, Special Member
  • aging
  • memory
  • fmri
Maintaining accurate memory depends on both the ability to recognize old information and the ability to reject new information that has not been previously encountered. Research has shown that it is difficult to reject new information that bears resemblance to previously encountered information and individuals instead often falsely identify such new information as old. It has been posited that in the case of high relatedness between new and old information, recalling elements of old information can facilitate the rejection process as inconsistencies between new and old information can be identified. Recalling studied information to facilitate rejection of new items at retrieval has been termed ‘recollection rejection’ and is an excellent strategy for suppressing false memories. Despite the fact that recollection rejection is posited to engage a mechanism similar true recollection, previous neuroimaging studies have not evaluated to the overlap between the neural correlates of true recollection and recollection rejection. Thus, the present study sought to evaluate the neural basis of recollection rejection within a perceptual false memory paradigm. Results demonstrated that recollection rejection engaged a fronto-parietal network that has been posited to support retrieval monitoring processes. Critically, neural overlap between recollection rejection and true recollection was limited to one cluster in ventral visual cortex. Thus, there was little evidence that recollection rejection relies on a true recollection mechanism. Regarding aging, few behavioral studies have evaluated older adults’ ability to use recollection rejection as a strategy for suppressing false memories, despite the wealth of research showing age-related increases in false memories. Further, no neuroimaging study has done so. In particular, given age deficits in true recollection processing, it is possible that difficulties engaging recollection represent a common cause of age-related deficits in true memories and age-related increases in false memories. However, while the present study revealed a behavioral age deficit that was specific to rejecting related lures using recollection rejection, very few neural differences between age groups were identified. While there was some evidence of age-related increases in neural activity associated with recollection rejection, there was far more neural activity that was common across age groups. Thus, when older adults make successful recollection rejection responses, they do so based on similar cognitive and neural processes as young adults.