Perceptual and Semantic Representations at Encoding Contribute to True and False Recognition of Objects

Loris Naspi*, Paul Hoffman, Barry Devereux, Alexa M. Morcom

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


When encoding new episodic memories, visual and semantic processing is proposed to make distinct contributions to accurate memory and memory distortions. Here, we used fMRI and preregistered representational similarity analysis to uncover the representations that predict true and false recognition of unfamiliar objects. Two semantic models captured coarsegrained taxonomic categories and specific object features, respectively, while two perceptual models embodied low-level visual properties. Twenty-eight female and male participants encoded images of objects during fMRI scanning, and later had to discriminate studied objects from similar lures and novel objects in a recognition memory test. Both perceptual and semantic models predicted true memory. When studied objects were later identified correctly, neural patterns corresponded to lowlevel visual representations of these object images in the early visual cortex, lingual, and fusiform gyri. In a similar fashion, alignment of neural patterns with fine-grained semantic feature representations in the fusiform gyrus also predicted true recognition. However, emphasis on coarser taxonomic representations predicted forgetting more anteriorly in the anterior ventral temporal cortex, left inferior frontal gyrus and, in an exploratory analysis, left perirhinal cortex. In contrast, false recognition of similar lure objects was associated with weaker visual analysis posteriorly in early visual and left occipitotemporal cortex. The results implicate multiple perceptual and semantic representations in successful memory encoding and suggest that fine-grained semantic as well as visual analysis contributes to accurate later recognition, while processing visual image detail is critical for avoiding false recognition errors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8375-8389
Number of pages15
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number40
Early online date19 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 06 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received Mar. 30, 2021; revised June 30, 2021; accepted July 28, 2021. Author contributions: L.N., P.H., B.D., and A.M.M. designed research; L.N. performed research; L.N. analyzed data; L.N. and A.M.M. wrote the first draft of the paper; L.N., P.H., B.D., and A.M.M. edited the paper; L.N., P.H., B.D., and A.M.M. wrote the paper. P.H was supported by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council New Investigator Grant BB/ T004444/1. The authors declare no competing financial interests. Correspondence should be addressed to Loris Naspi at Copyright © 2021 the authors

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 the authors.


  • Episodic memory
  • False memory
  • FMRI
  • Memory encoding
  • Recognition memory
  • Representational similarity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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