Declarative memory permits an organism to recognize stimuli that have been previously encountered, discriminating them from those that are novel. One basis for recognition is item memory strength, which may support the perception of stimulus familiarity. Though the medial temporal lobes are known to be critical for declarative memory, at present the neural mechanisms supporting perceived differences in memory strength remain poorly specified. Here, functional MRI (fMRI) and anatomically constrained magnetoencephalography (MEG) indexed correlates of graded memory strength in the human brain, focusing on medial temporal cortex. fMRI revealed a decrease in medial temporal cortical activation that tracked parametric levels of perceived memory strength. Anatomically constrained MEG current estimates revealed that strength-dependent signal reductions onset within 150-300 ms. Memory strength appears to be rapidly signaled by medial temporal cortex through repetition suppression (activation reductions), providing a basis for the subjective perception of stimulus familiarity or novelty.
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