To understand recognition memory, the detection of stimulus repetition, it first is necessary to resolve the debate between 2 fundamentally different models of recognition. Contemporary single-process models assume that recognition memory relies solely on the neural system required for the recall of prior events. Dual-process models assume that recognition comprises 2 independent forms of memory: one supports recall, and the other detects repeated stimuli by signaling their familiarity, the feeling of previous occurrence without the recall of any associated information. These 2 models were contrasted in patients who had undergone surgical removal of a colloid cyst, a condition associated with memory loss when accompanied by fornix and/or mammillary body atrophy. Comparisons were made between 2 groups of 9 patients that differed only with respect to the extent of mammillary body atrophy. Only the more atrophied group was impaired on tests of recall, but both groups showed normal recognition levels on a task that equates recall and recognition performance in normal participants. To explore the nature of this spared recognition, we estimated recall-based recognition and familiarity-based recognition using 3 distinct methods: self-report, receiver operating characteristics, and structural equation modeling. All 3 methods showed impaired recall-based recognition accompanied by intact familiarity in the most atrophied group, as predicted only by dual-process models. When structural equation modeling was applied to all 62 colloid cyst patients, the recall/familiarity dual-process model best explained the patients' memory pattern. The convergent evidence that mammillary body atrophy impairs recall but spares familiarity-based recognition appears irreconcilable with single-process models
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