The question of interference (how new learning affects previously acquired knowledge and vice versa) is a central theoretical issue in episodic memory research, but very few human neuroimaging studies have addressed this question. Here, we used event-related potentials (ERPs) to test the predictions of the complementary learning systems (CLS) model regarding how list strength manipulations (strengthening some, but not all, items on a study list) affect recognition memory. Our analysis focused on the FN400 old-new effect, a hypothesized ERP correlate of familiarity-based recognition, and the parietal old-new effect, a hypothesized ERP correlate of recollection-based recognition. As is predicted by the CLS model, increasing list strength selectively reduced the ERP correlate of recollection-based discrimination, leaving the ERP correlate of familiarity-based discrimination intact. In a second experiment, we obtained converging evidence for the CLS model's predictions, using a remember/know test: Increasing list strength reduced recollection-based discrimination but did not reduce familiarity-based discrimination.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)