NM, who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) to the prefrontal cortex (PFC), was compared with a diffuse axonal injury (DAI) patient on tasks of free recall, cued recall and recognition memory. We manipulated the familiarity of items to explore the effects of item strength on retrieval. On free recall, NM performed best during the high-familiarity picture condition. On cued recall, he performed best during the high-familiarity word condition. Although high familiarity improved his accuracy on picture items in free recall, low familiarity improved his recognition of words. The patient with DAI did not show these patterns. The role of the PFC in memory is discussed in terms of plausible recognition processes.