Journal of Undergraduate Research


mnemonic mechanisms, longitudinal approach, fMRI studies


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




My project focused on the neural activity associated with memory consolidation, particularly the role of pattern separation and pattern completion over an extended period of time. Pattern separation occurs when the brain successfully encodes similar experiences into distinct memories (Deng et al. 2003); for instance, pattern separation allows you to correctly remember what you had for dinner last night as opposed to the night before last. Pattern completion, on the other hand, occurs when you reconstruct a memory from a partial memory (e.g. when asked what you ate last Wednesday night, you respond with the meal you consumed last Tuesday night) (Leutgeb & Leutgeb, 2007). The more time passes, the harder it is to access distinct, separate memories without interference. Computational models of the brain propose that the hippocampus (a brain structure critical for memory formation) establishes distinct memory representations through pattern separation (Norman & O’Reilly, 2003). Over time, however, these memory representations are shifted to other cortical regions and become more general and less distinct (Alvarez & Squire, 1994).

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