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Greater Neural Pattern Similarity Across Repetitions Is Associated with Better Memory

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Science  09 Sep 2010:
1193125
DOI: 10.1126/science.1193125

Abstract

Repeated study improves memory, but the underlying neural mechanisms of this improvement are not well understood. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and representational similarity analysis of brain activity, we found that, compared with forgotten items, subsequently remembered faces and words showed greater similarity in neural activation across multiple study in many brain regions, including (but not limited to) the regions whose mean activities were correlated with subsequent memory. This result addresses a longstanding debate in the study of memory by showing that successful episodic memory encoding occurs when the same neural representations are more precisely reactivated across study episodes, rather than when patterns of activation are more variable across time.