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Identical versus conceptual repetition FN400 and parietal old/new ERP components occur during encoding and predict subsequent memory
This Event-Related Potential (ERP) study investigated whether components commonly measured at test, such as the FN400 and the parietal old/new components, could be observed during encoding and, if so, whether they would predict different levels of accuracy on a subsequent memory test. ERPs were recorded while subjects classified pictures of objects as man-made or natural. Some objects were only classified once, while others were classified twice during encoding, sometimes with an identical picture, and other times with a different exemplar from the same category. A subsequent surprise recognition test required subjects to judge whether each probe word corresponded to a picture shown earlier, and if so whether there were two identical pictures that corresponded to the word probe, two different pictures, or just one picture. When the second presentation showed a duplicate of an earlier picture, the FN400 effect (a significantly less negative deflection on the second presentation) was observed regardless of subsequent memory response; however, when the second presentation showed a different exemplar of the same concept, the FN400 effect was only marginally significant. In contrast, the parietal old/new effect was robust for the second presentation of conceptual repetitions when the test probe was subsequently recognized, but not for identical repetitions. These findings suggest that ERP components that are typically observed during an episodic memory test can be observed during an incidental encoding task, and that they are predictive of the degree of subsequent memory performance.