Neural correlates of memory confidence

Steffen Moritz*, Jan Gläscher, Tobias Sommer, Christian Büchel, Dieter F. Braus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


The present study aimed to shed light on the neural underpinnings of high vs. low memory confidence. To dissociate memory confidence from accuracy, the Deese-Roediger McDermott (DRM) paradigm was employed, which - compared to other memory paradigms - elicits a rather evenly distributed number of high-confident responses across all possible combinations of memory response types (i.e., hits, false alarms, correct rejections, and misses). In the standard DRM procedure, subjects are first presented with thematically interrelated word lists at encoding, which at recognition are intermixed with related and unrelated distractor items. The signature of a false memory or DRM effect is an increased number of high-confident false memories, particularly for strongly related lure items. For the present study, 17 female subjects were administered a verbal DRM task, whereas neural activation was indexed by fMRI. The behavioral analyses confirmed the expected false memory effect: subjects made more high-confident old responses (both hits and false alarms) the closer the items were related to the central list theme. Across all four memory response types, an increase in confidence at recognition was associated with bilateral activation in the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex along with medial temporal regions. In contrast, increments in doubt were solely related to activation in the superior posterior parietal cortex. To conclude, the study provides some evidence for dissociable systems for confidence and doubt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1188-1193
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes


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