Successful memory retrieval is predicated not only on recognizing old information, but also on correctly rejecting new information (lures) in order to avoid false memories. Correctly rejecting lures is more difficult when they are perceptually or semantically related to information presented at study as compared to when lures are distinct from previously studied information. This behavioral difference suggests that the cognitive and neural basis of correct rejections differs with respect to the relatedness between lures and studied items. The present study sought to identify neural activity that aids in suppressing false memories by examining the network of brain regions underlying correct rejection of related and unrelated lures. Results showed neural overlap in the right hippocampus and anterior parahippocampal gyrus associated with both related and unrelated correct rejections, indicating that some neural regions support correctly rejecting lures regardless of their semantic/perceptual characteristics. Direct comparisons between related and unrelated correct rejections showed that unrelated correct rejections were associated with greater activity in bilateral middle and inferior temporal cortices, regions that have been associated with categorical processing and semantic labels. Related correct rejections showed greater activation in visual and lateral prefrontal cortices, which have been associated with perceptual processing and retrieval monitoring. Thus, while related and unrelated correct rejections show some common neural correlates, related correct rejections are driven by greater perceptual processing whereas unrelated correct rejections show greater reliance on salient categorical cues to support quick and accurate memory decisions.
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