Parietal contributions to recollection: electrophysiological evidence from aging and patients with parietal lesions.


There has been much recent investigation into the role of parietal cortex in memory retrieval. Proposed hypotheses include attention to internal memorial representations, an episodic working memory-type buffer, and an accumulator of retrieved memorial information. The current investigation used event-related potentials (ERPs) to test the episodic buffer hypothesis, and to assess the memorial contribution of parietal cortex in younger and older adults, and in patients with circumscribed lateral parietal lesions. In a standard recognition memory paradigm, subjects studied color pictures of common objects. One-third of the test items were presented in the same viewpoint as the study phase, one-third were presented in a 90 degrees rotated viewpoint, and one-third were presented in a noncanonical viewpoint. Conflicting with the episodic buffer hypothesis, results revealed that the duration of the parietal old/new effect was longest for the canonical condition and shortest for the noncanonical condition. Results also revealed that older adults demonstrated a diminished parietal old/new effect relative to younger adults. Consistent with previous data reported by Simons et al., patients with lateral parietal lesions showed no behavioral impairment compared to controls. Behavioral and ERP data from parietal lesion patients are presented and discussed. From these results, the authors speculate that the parietal old/new effect may be the neural correlate of an individual's subjective recollective experience.