Assessment of visual working memory using event-related potentials
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OBJECTIVE: This study sought to determine if recognition/familiarity memory can be measured using event-related potentials (ERP) in response to a computer-adapted version of a commonly used non-verbal memory assessment instrument. If successful, resulting ERP would further our knowledge of the neurophysiology of recognition memory and could be used in a cognitive assessment battery for individuals whose capacity for verbal and/or non-verbal communication is impaired. METHODS: Behavioral and ERP responses were recorded during performance on a computer-adapted version of the Continuous Visual Memory Test (CVMT) [Trahan DE, Larrabee GJ. Continuous Visual Memory Test. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources; 1988] and examined offline for recognition memory old/new effects. Behavioral performance was also compared with performance on an alternate form of the test under standard administration procedures. RESULTS: ERP to old (repeated) visual designs in the CVMT were more positive-going than those to new designs and reflected by both early frontal and late parietal old/new effects as commonly reported in the recognition memory literature. The behavioral results from the computer-adapted and standard administration versions of the CVMT showed a significant correlation. CONCLUSIONS: The computer-adapted ERP version of the CVMT provides a way to directly assess, using neurophysiological responses, the cognitive processes associated with recognition memory as measured by the CVMT. SIGNIFICANCE: The results from this study contribute to linking the functional and neurophysiological profile of memory produced by experimental neuroimaging research with traditional clinical neuropsychological assessment.
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