Pattern separation and pattern completion: Behaviorally separable processes?

Chi T. Ngo, Sebastian Michelmann, Ingrid R. Olson, Nora S. Newcombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Episodic memory capacity requires several processes, including mnemonic discrimination of similar experiences, termed pattern separation, and holistic retrieval of multidimensional experiences given a cue, termed pattern completion. Both computations seem to rely on the hippocampus proper, but they also seem to be instantiated by distinct hippocampal subfields. Thus, we investigated whether individual differences in behavioral expressions of pattern separation and pattern completion were correlated after accounting for general mnemonic ability. Young adult participants learned events comprised of a scene-animal-object triad. In the pattern separation task, we estimated mnemonic discrimination using lure classification for events that contained a similar lure element. In the pattern completion task, we estimated holistic recollection using dependency in retrieval success for different associations from the same event. Although overall accuracies for the two tasks correlated as expected, specific measures of individual variation in holistic retrieval and mnemonic discrimination did not correlate, suggesting that these two processes involve distinguishable properties of episodic memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMemory and Cognition
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Episodic memory
  • Holistic recollection
  • Lure classification
  • Pattern completion
  • Pattern separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Pattern separation and pattern completion: Behaviorally separable processes?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this