Memory strength and specificity revealed by pupillometry

Megan H. Papesh, Stephen Goldinger, Michael C. Hout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Voice-specificity effects in recognition memory were investigated using both behavioral data and pupillometry. Volunteers initially heard spoken words and nonwords in two voices; they later provided confidence-based old/new classifications to items presented in their original voices, changed (but familiar) voices, or entirely new voices. Recognition was more accurate for old-voice items, replicating prior research. Pupillometry was used to gauge cognitive demand during both encoding and testing: enlarged pupils revealed that participants devoted greater effort to encoding items that were subsequently recognized. Further, pupil responses were sensitive to the cue match between encoding and retrieval voices, as well as memory strength. Strong memories, and those with the closest encoding-retrieval voice matches, resulted in the highest peak pupil diameters. The results are discussed with respect to episodic memory models and Whittlesea's (1997) SCAPE framework for recognition memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-64
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Pupillometry
  • Recognition memory
  • Specificity effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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