Neural pattern classification tracks transfer-appropriate processing in episodic memory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The transfer-appropriate processing (TAP) account holds that episodic memory depends on the overlap between encoding and retrieval processing. In the current study, we employed multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) of electroencephalography to examine the relevance of spontaneously engaged visual processing during encoding for later retrieval. Human participants encoded word- picture associations, where the picture could be a famous face, a landmark, or an object. At test, we manipulated the retrieval demands by asking participants to retrieve either visual or verbal information about the pictures. MVPA revealed classification between picture categories during early perceptual stages of encoding (∼170 ms). Importantly, these visual category-specific neural patterns were predictive of later episodic remembering, but the direction of the relationship was contingent on the particular retrieval demand of the memory task: a benefit for the visual and a cost for the verbal. A reinstatement of the category-specific neural patterns established during encoding was observed during retrieval, and again the relationship with behavior varied with retrieval demands. Reactivation of visual representations during retrieval was associated with better memory in the visual task, but with lower performance in the verbal task. Our findings support and extend the TAP account by demonstrating that processing of particular aspects during memory formation can also have detrimental effects on later episodic remembering when other aspects of the event are called-for and shed new light on encoding and retrieval interactions in episodic memory.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • EEG, episodic memory, multivariate pattern analysis, transfer-appropriate processing
Original languageEnglish
Article numberENEURO.0251-18.2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 9
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Mikael Johansson

Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond

2016/07/01 → …

Project: Research

Mikael Johansson & Ines Bramao

Swedish Research Council


Project: ResearchInternal collaboration (LU)

View all (2)