Use of explicit memory cues following parietal lobe lesions

Dobbins, I.G., Jaeger, A., Studer, B., & Simons, J.S. (2012). Neuropsychologia, 50, 2992-3003.

The putative role of the lateral parietal lobe in episodic memory has recently become a topic of considerable debate, owing primarily to its consistent activation for studied materials during functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of recognition. Here we examined the performance of patients with parietal lobe lesions using an explicit memory cueing task in which probabilistic cues ("Likely Old" or "Likely New"; 75% validity) preceded the majority of verbal recognition memory probes. Without cues, patients and control participants did not differ in accuracy. However, group differences emerged during the "Likely New" cue condition with controls responding more accurately than parietal patients when these cues were valid (preceding new materials) and trending towards less accuracy when these cues were invalid (preceding old materials). Both effects suggest insufficient integration of external cues into memory judgments on the part of the parietal patients whose cued performance largely resembled performance in the complete absence of cues. Comparison of the parietal patients to a patient group with frontal lobe lesions suggested the pattern was specific to parietal and adjacent area lesions. Overall, the data indicate that parietal lobe patients fail to appropriately incorporate external cues of novelty into recognition attributions. This finding supports a role for the lateral parietal lobe in the adaptive biasing of memory judgments through the integration of external cues and internal memory evidence. We outline the importance of such adaptive biasing through consideration of basic signal detection predictions regarding maximum possible accuracy with and without informative environmental cues.