Decoding overlapping memories in the medial temporal lobes using high-resolution fMRI.

The hippocampus is proposed to process overlapping episodes as discrete memory traces, although direct evidence for this in human episodic memory is scarce. Using green-screen technology we created four highly overlapping movies of everyday events. Participants were scanned using high-resolution fMRI while recalling the movies. Multivariate pattern analysis revealed that the hippocampus supported distinct representations of each memory, while neighboring regions did not, demonstrating that the human hippocampus maintains unique pattern-separated memory traces even when memories are highly overlapping. The hippocampus also contained representations of spatial contexts that were shared across different memories, consistent with a specialized role in processing space.

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