Memory retrieval does not provide a perfect recapitulation of past events, but instead an imperfect reconstruction of event-specific details and general knowledge. However, it remains unclear whether this reconstruction relies on mixtures of signals from different memory systems, including one supporting general knowledge. Here, we investigate whether the anterior temporal lobe (ATL) distorts new memories because of prior category knowledge. In this preregistered experiment (n = 36), participants encoded and retrieved image–location associations. Most images' locations were clustered according to their category, but some were in random locations. With this protocol, we previously demonstrated that randomly located images were retrieved closer to their category cluster relative to their encoded locations, suggesting an influence of category knowledge. We combined this procedure with TMS delivered to the left ATL before retrieval. We separately examined event-specific details (error) and category knowledge (bias) to identify distinct signals attributable to different memory systems. We found that TMS to ATL attenuated bias in location memory, but this effect was limited to exploratory analyses of atypical category members of animal categories. The magnitude of error was not impacted, suggesting that a memory's fidelity can be decoupled from its distortion by category knowledge. This raises the intriguing possibility that retrieval is jointly supported by separable memory systems.

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