Recognition memory is improved for items produced at study (e.g., by reading them aloud) relative to a non-produced control condition (e.g., silent reading). This production effect is typically attributed to the extra elements in the production task (e.g., motor activation, auditory perception) enhancing item distinctiveness. To evaluate this claim, the present study examined the neural mechanisms underlying the production effect. Prior to a recognition memory test, different words within a study list were read either aloud, silently, or while saying “check” (as a sensorimotor control condition). Production improved recognition, and aloud words yielded higher rates of both recollection and familiarity judgments than either silent or control words. During encoding, fMRI revealed stronger activation in regions associated with motor, somatosensory, and auditory processing for aloud items than for either silent or control items. These activations were predictive of recollective success for aloud items at test. Together, our findings are compatible with a distinctiveness-based account of the production effect, while also pointing to the possible role of other processing differences during the aloud trials as compared to silent and control.
- Multivoxel pattern analysis
- Representational similarity analysis