We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (efMRI) to investigate brain regions showing differential responses as a function of confidence in an episodic word recognition task. Twelve healthy volunteers indicated whether their old-new judgments were made with high or low confidence. Hemodynamic responses associated with each judgment were modeled with an “early” and a “late” response function. As predicted by the monitoring hypothesis generated from a previous recognition study [Henson, R. N. A., Rugg, M. D., Shallice, T., Josephs, O., & Dolan, R. J. (1999a). Recollection and familiarity in recognition memory: An event-related fMRI study. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 3962-3972], a right dorsolateral prefrontal region showed a greater response to correct low-versus correct high-confidence judgements. Several regions, including the precuneus, posterior cingulate, and left lateral parietal cortex, showed greater responses to correct old than correct new judgements. The anterior left and right prefrontal regions also showed an old-new difference, but for these regions the difference emerged relatively later in time. These results further support the proposal that different subregions of the prefrontal cortex subserve different functions during episodic retrieval. These functions are discussed in relation to a monitoring process, which operates when familiarity levels are close to response criterion and is associated with nonconfident judgements, and a recollective process, which is associated with the confident recognition of old words.

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