Differentiating amodal familiarity from modality-specific memory processes: An ERP study

Tim Curran, Joseph Dien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Distinct event-related potential effects have been related to familiarity and recollection processes underlying recognition memory. Familiarity has been conceptualized as similar either to perceptual priming mechanisms supporting implicit memory or to amodal global-matching processes that should show little sensitivity to perceptual variables. The present experiment manipulated the study modality of words (auditory, visual) that were visually tested for recognition memory. The mid-frontal (300-500 ms) old/new effect often attributed to familiarity was not affected by study modality, so it appears related to an amodal familiarity process. An earlier (176-260 ms) fronto-polar old/new effect was perceptually specific in that it was observed only following visual study. The parietal old/new effect (400-800 ms), often attributed to recollection, was similar following both visual and auditory study. Temporal-spatial PCA clarified the separability of these effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-988
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • ERP old/new effect
  • Event-related potentials
  • Familiarity
  • Memory
  • Modality
  • N400
  • Principal components analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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