Undergraduate Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 4-2014

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Stefan Kohler

Second Advisor

Chris Martin

Abstract

Previous evidence suggests that parahippocampal cortex (PhC) is associated with contextual encoding and retrieval while perirhinal cortex (PrC) is associated with item familiarity. However, this is inconsistent with recent evidence that PhC is associated with item familiarity for some objects (Martin et al., 2013). The familiarity of items seems to be represented in both PhC and PrC, with object categories being represented in one area more strongly than the other, or dually associated in both. Stimuli properties of items in these categories are thought to play a role in this differential association. The purpose of the current experiment is to create an effective experimental paradigm that will be used in a future imaging study to examine the representation of item-based familiarity signals in PhC and PrC, as a function of varying stimulus dimensions. Thirty-nine students were recruited through the Psychology Research Participation Pool and were compensated 1.5 research credits for their participation. A continuous recognition memory task was employed, where items from three stimulus categories, animals, tools, and appliances, were presented and recognition memory responses were recorded. Through data analysis and iterative refinement of the paradigm, it was found that the fourth version of the paradigm should be used for a future imaging study because responses are primarily familiarity-based, overall recognition is significantly greater than chance, and two of the three stimulus categories are matched in performance.

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