Neural distinctiveness and reinstatement of hippocampal representations support unitization for associations

S. Ricupero, C. M. Carpenter, A. C. Steinkrauss, C. R. Gerver, J. D. Chamberlain, R. G. Monkman, A. A. Overman, N. A. Dennis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The medial temporal lobe (MTL) is critical to associative memory success, yet not all types of associations may be processed in a similar manner within MTL subregions. In particular, previous work suggests intra- and inter-item associations not only exhibit differences in overall rates of recollection, but also recruit different MTL subregions. Whereas intra-item associations, akin to unitization, take advantage of associations between within-item features, inter-item associations form links across discrete items. The current work examines the neural differences between these two types of associations using fMRI and multivoxel analyses. Specifically, the current study examines differences across face-occupation as a function of whether the pairing was viewed as a person performing the given job (intra-item binding) or a person saying they knew someone who had a particular job (inter-item binding). The results show that at encoding, successfully recollected neural patterns related to intra- and inter-item associations are distinct from one another in the hippocampus, parahippocampal and perirhinal cortex. Additionally, the two trial types are reinstated distinctly such that inter-item trials have higher neural reinstatement from encoding to retrieval compared to intra-item trials in the hippocampus. We conclude that intra- and inter- associative pairs may utilize similar neural regions that represent patterns of activation differentially at encoding. However, to reinstate information to the same degree (i.e., subsequently successfully recollected) inter-item associations, that are all encoded in the same manner, may be reinstated more similarly compared to intra-item associations that are encoded by imagining pairs differently and occupation specific. This may indicate that intra-item associations promote more efficient reinstatement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number148143
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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