Recollection and familiarity in amnesic mild cognitive impairment

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Objective: To investigate whether, in patients with amnesic mild cognitive impairment (a-MCI), recognition deficits are mainly due to a selective impairment of recollection rather than familiarity. Methods: Nineteen patients with a-MCI and 23 sex-, age-, and education-matched healthy controls underwent two experimental investigations, using the Process Dissociation Procedure (PDP) and the Remember/Know (R/K) procedure, to assess the differential contribution of recollection and familiarity to their recognition performance. Results: Both experimental procedures revealed a selective preservation of familiarity in a-MCI patients. Moreover, the R/K procedure showed a statistically significant impairment of recollection in a-MCI patients for words that were either read or anagrammed during the study phase. Conclusions: A-MCI is known to be commonly associated with a high risk of conversion to Alzheimer's disease (AD). Several previous studies have demonstrated a characteristic impairment of episodic memory in a-MCI, with an early dysfunction of recognition. Our findings are consistent with the knowledge of neurodegeneration occurring in AD, which is characterized, at the earliest disease stages, by a selective involvement of the entorhinal cortex. Moreover, the current study supports the dual process model of recognition, which hypothesizes recollection and familiarity to be independent processes associated with distinct anatomical substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-326
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Familiarity
  • Memory
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Recollection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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