The Common Time Course of Memory Processes Revealed

John R. Anderson, Jelmer P. Borst, Jon M. Fincham, Avniel Singh Ghuman, Caitlin Tenison, Qiong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Magnetoencephalography (MEG) was used to compare memory processes in two experiments, one involving recognition of word pairs and the other involving recall of newly learned arithmetic facts. A combination of hidden semi-Markov models and multivariate pattern analysis was used to locate brief “bumps” in the sensor data that marked the onset of different stages of cognitive processing. These bumps identified a separation between a retrieval stage that identified relevant information in memory and a decision stage that determined what response was implied by that information. The encoding, retrieval, decision, and response stages displayed striking similarities across the two experiments in their duration and brain activation patterns. Retrieval and decision processes involve distinct brain activation patterns. We conclude that memory processes for two different tasks, associative recognition versus arithmetic retrieval, follow a common spatiotemporal neural pattern and that both tasks have distinct retrieval and decision stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1463-1474
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


  • cognitive neuroscience
  • memory
  • neuroimaging
  • reaction time
  • task analysis


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