Pattern memory involves both elemental and configural processes: evidence from the effects of hippocampal lesions

Behav Neurosci. 2011 Aug;125(4):567-77. doi: 10.1037/a0023762.


The formation of an integrated memory for a pattern of stimulation could be based on the elements of that pattern becoming directly linked to one another, or by each of the elements becoming linked to a shared separate configural representation. These 2 accounts have proven difficult to discriminate between. Here, rats received exposure to four patterns of stimulation, each consisting of an auditory stimulus, a visual context, and a time of day; and we examined whether pre-training lesions to the hippocampus influenced memory for the patterns. These lesions abolished pattern memory that required configural processes (Experiments 1A and 1B) but had no effect on pattern memory that could be supported by elemental processes (Experiment 2). This dissociation provides support for the views that elemental and configural processes ordinarily support pattern memory and that rats with lesions to the hippocampus are left reliant on elemental processes. (

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Classical / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / drug effects
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / toxicity
  • Hippocampus / injuries*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Ibotenic Acid / toxicity
  • Immobility Response, Tonic / drug effects
  • Immobility Response, Tonic / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Rats
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Ibotenic Acid