Disrupting the configural context, or relative organization and orientation of paired stimuli, between encoding and retrieval negatively impacts memory. Using univariate and multivariate fMRI analyses, we examined the effect of retaining and manipulating the configural context on neural mechanisms supporting associative retrieval. Behavioral results showed participants had significantly higher hit rates for recollecting pairs in a contextually congruent, versus incongruent, configuration. In addition, contextual congruency between memory phases was a critical determinant to characterizing both the magnitude and patterns of neural activation within visual and parietal cortices. Regions within visual cortices also exhibited higher correlations between patterns of activity at encoding and retrieval when configural context was congruent across memory phases than incongruent. Collectively, these findings shed light on how manipulating configural context between encoding and retrieval affects associative recognition, with changes in the configural context leading to reductions in information transfer and increases in task difficulty.

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