Two is better than one: distinct roles for familiarity and recollection in retrieving palimpsest memories

Storing a new pattern in a palimpsest memory system comes at the cost of interfering with the memory traces of previously stored items. Knowing the age of a pattern thus becomes critical for recalling it faithfully. This implies that there should be a tight coupling between estimates of age, as a form of familiarity, and the neural dynamics of recollection, something which current theories omit. Using a normative model of autoassociative memory, we show that a dual memory system, consisting of two interacting modules for familiarity and recollection, has best performance for both recollection and recognition. This finding provides a new window onto actively contentious psychological and neural aspects of recognition memory.

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