Neural activity reveals interactions between episodic and semantic memory systems during retrieval

Christoph T. Weidemann, James E. Kragel, Bradley C. Lega, Gregory A. Worrell, Michael R. Sperling, Ashwini D. Sharan, Barbara C. Jobst, Fatemeh Khadjevand, Kathryn A. Davis, Paul A. Wanda, Allison Kadel, Daniel S. Rizzuto, Michael J. Kahana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Whereas numerous findings support a distinction between episodic and semantic memory, it is now widely acknowledged that these two forms of memory interact during both encoding and retrieval. The precise nature of this interaction, however, remains poorly understood. To examine the role of semantic organization during episodic encoding and retrieval, we recorded intracranial encephalographic signals as 69 neurosurgical patients studied and subsequently recalled categorized and unrelated word lists. Applying multivariate classifiers to neural recordings, we were able to reliably predict encoding success, retrieval success, and temporal and categorical clustering during recall. By assessing how these classifiers generalized across list types, we identified specific retrieval processes that predicted recall of categorized lists and distinguished between recall transitions within and between category clusters. These results particularly implicate retrieval (rather than encoding) processes in the categorical organization of episodic memories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Episodic memory
  • Free recall
  • Intracranial EEG
  • Machine learning
  • Semantic memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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