Events with overlapping elements can be encoded as two separate representations or linked into an integrated representation, yet we know little about the conditions that promote one form of representation over the other. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the proximity of overlapping events would increase the probability of integration. Participants first established memories for house–object and face–object pairs; half of the pairs were learned 24 hr before an fMRI session, and the other half 30 min before the session. During scanning, participants encoded object–object pairs that overlapped with the initial pairs acquired on the same or prior day. Participants were also scanned as they made inference judgments about the relationships among overlapping pairs learned on the same or different day. Participants were more accurate and faster when inferring relationships among memories learned on the same day relative to those acquired across days, suggesting that temporal proximity promotes integration. Evidence for reactivation of existing memories—as measured by a visual content classifier—was equivalent during encoding of overlapping pairs from the two temporal conditions. In contrast, evidence for integration—as measured by a mnemonic strategy classifier from an independent study [Richter, F. R., Chanales, A. J. H., & Kuhl, B. A. Predicting the integration of overlapping memories by decoding mnemonic processing states during learning. Neuroimage, 124, 323–335, 2016]—was greater for same-day overlapping events, paralleling the behavioral results. During inference itself, activation patterns further differentiated when participants were making inferences about events acquired on the same day versus across days. These findings indicate that temporal proximity of events promotes integration and further influences the neural mechanisms engaged during inference.

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