Changes in brain electrical activity during extended continuous word recognition

J.W. van Strien, R.E. Hagenbeek, C.J. Stam, S.A.R.B. Rombouts, F. Barkhof

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Twenty healthy subjects (10 men, 10 women) participated in an EEG study with an extended continuous recognition memory task, in which each of 30 words was randomly shown 10 times and subjects were required to make old vs. new decisions. Both event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and induced band power (IBP) were investigated. We hypothesized that repeated presentations affect recollection rather than familiarity. For the 300- to 500-ms time window, an 'old/new' ERP effect was found for the first vs. second word presentations. The correct recognition of an 'old' word was associated with a more positive waveform than the correct identification of a new word. The old/new effect was most pronounced at and around the midline parietal electrode position. For the 500- to 800-ms time window, a linear repetition effect was found for multiple word repetitions. Correct recognition after an increasing number of repetitions was associated with increasing positivity. The multiple repetitions effect was most pronounced at the midline central (Cz) and fronto-central (FCz) electrode positions and reflects a graded recollection process: the stronger the memory trace grows, the more positive the ERP in the 500- to 800-ms time window. The ERP results support a dual-processing model, with familiarity being discernable from a more graded recollection state that depends on memory strengths. For IBP, we found 'old/new' effects for the lower-2 alpha, theta, and delta bands, with higher bandpower during 'old' words. The lower-2 alpha 'old/new' effect most probably reflects attentional processes, whereas the theta and delta effects reflect encoding and retrieval processes. Upon repeated word presentations, the magnitude of induced delta power in the 375- to 750-ms time window diminished linearly. Correlation analysis suggests that decreased delta power is moderately associated with faster decision speed and higher accuracy. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-959
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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