Two separate, but interacting, neural systems for familiarity and novelty detection: A dual-route mechanism

Authors

  • Alexandros Kafkas,

    Corresponding author
    1. Human Memory and Amnesia Laboratory, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
    • Correspondence to: Dr. Alex Kafkas, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL. E-mail: alexandros.kafkas@manchester.ac.uk

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  • Daniela Montaldi

    1. Human Memory and Amnesia Laboratory, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
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ABSTRACT

It has long been assumed that familiarity- and novelty-related processes fall on a single continuum drawing on the same cognitive and neural mechanisms. The possibility that familiarity and novelty processing involve distinct neural networks was explored in a functional magnetic resonance imaging study (fMRI), in which familiarity and novelty judgments were made in contexts emphasizing either familiarity or novelty decisions. Parametrically modulated BOLD responses to familiarity and novelty strength were isolated in two separate, nonoverlapping brain networks. The novelty system involved brain regions along the ventral visual stream, the hippocampus, and the perirhinal and parahippocampal cortices. The familiarity system, on the other hand, involved the dorsomedial thalamic nucleus, and regions within the medial prefrontal cortex and the medial and lateral parietal cortex. Convergence of the two networks, treating familiarity and novelty as a single continuum was only found in a fronto-parietal network. Finally, the orbitomedial prefrontal cortex was found to be sensitive to reported strength/confidence, irrespective of stimulus' familiarity or novelty. This pattern of results suggests a dual-route mechanism supported by the existence of two distinct but interacting functional systems for familiarity and novelty. Overall, these findings challenge current assumptions regarding the neural systems that support the processing of novel and familiar information, and have important implications for research into the neural bases of recognition memory. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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