CRITICAL INVESTIGATIONS OF THE Z-ROC CURVE: EVIDENCES FOR A SINGLE-PROCESS MODEL OF RECOGNITION MEMORY

  • Ziv Peremen
  • Chen Didi-Barnea
  • Yonatan Goshen-Gottstein

Abstract

A dominant approach to recognition memory is dual-process theory, comprising both signal- detection (familiarity) and high-threshold (recollection) mechanisms. The finding that z-ROC slopes are invariably smaller than unity—establishing larger variance for the hypothetical target distribution than that of the lure distribution—is taken as support for the involvement at retrieval of recollection, in addition to familiarity (thereby increasing the variance of the target distribution). Critically, in a seminal study, Yonelinas et al. (2001) obtained confidence ratings (from which z-ROC slopes could be calculated) and, within each level of confidence, a subjective Remember-Know (R-K) judgment was made. In an attempt to simulate recognition unaffected by recollection, 'Remember' (R) trials were then selectively excluded. Consistent with dual-process theory, the z-ROC slope increased to unity, demonstrating the involvement of only a single process—Familiarity. Here we argue that Yonelinas et al. inadvertently biased participants to respond R only when they were highly confident that the item had been studied and that, in addition, the authors did not consider the possible existence of Recollection-based false alarms. When running the experiment with unbiased instructions, R responses spread across all confidence levels. We next excluded both R and K responses for both FAs and hits. Similar to Yonelinas, we too found an increase in the slope of the z-ROC curve. Our analysis suggests a strength-based interpretation to the data which include not only recollection-based hits, but also recollection-based FAs.

Section
Full Articles