Relaxing decision criteria does not improve recognition memory in amnesic patients

Paul J. Reber, Larry R. Squire*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


An important question about the organization of memory is whether information available in non-declarative memory can contribute to performance on tasks of declarative memory. Dorfman, Kihlstrom, Cork, and Misiaszek (1995) described, a circumstance in which the phenomenon of priming might benefit recognition memory performance. They reported that patients receiving electroconvulsive therapy improved their recognition performance when they were encouraged to relax their criteria for endorsing test items as familiar. It was suggested that priming improved recognition by making information available about the familiarity of test items. In three experiments, we sought unsuccessfully to reproduce this phenomenon in amnesic patients. In Experiment 3, we reproduced the methods and procedure used by Dorfman et al. but still found no evidence for improved recognition memory following the manipulation of decision criteria. Although negative findings have their own limitations, our findings suggest that the phenomenon reported by Dorfman et al. does not generalize well. Our results agree with several recent findings that suggest that priming is independent of recognition memory and does not contribute to recognition memory scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-511
Number of pages11
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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