Associative memory requires one to encode and form memory representations not just for individual items, but for the association or link between those items. Past work has suggested that associative memory is facilitated when individual items are familiar rather than simultaneously learning the items and their associative link. The current study employed multivoxel pattern analyses (MVPA) to investigate whether item familiarization prior to associative encoding affects the distinctiveness of neural patterns, and whether that distinctiveness is also present during associative retrieval. Our results suggest that prior exposure to item stimuli impacts the representations of their shared association compared to stimuli that are novel at the time of associative encoding throughout most of the associative memory network. While this distinction was also present at retrieval, the overall extent of the difference was diminished. Overall the results suggest that stimulus familiarity influences the representation of associative pairings during memory encoding and retrieval, and the pair-specific representation is maintained across memory phases irrespective of this distinction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Cognitive Neuroscience