Prediction errors (PEs) function as learning signals. It is yet unclear how varying compared to repetitive PEs affect episodic memory in brain and behavior. The current study investigated cerebral and behavioral effects of experiencing either multiple alternative versions (“varying”) or one single alternative version (“repetitive”) of a previously encoded episode. Participants encoded a set of episodes (“originals”) by watching videos showing toy stories. During scanning, participants either experienced originals, one single, or multiple alternative versions of the previously encoded episodes. Participants' memory performance was tested through recall of original objects. Varying and repetitive PEs revealed typical brain responses to the detection of mismatching information including inferior frontal and posterior parietal regions, as well as hippocampus, which is further linked to memory reactivation, and the amygdala, known for modulating memory consolidation. Furthermore, experiencing varying and repetitive PEs triggered distinct brain areas as revealed by direct contrast. Among others, experiencing varying versions triggered activity in the caudate, a region that has been associated with PEs. In contrast, repetitive PEs activated brain areas that resembled more those for retrieval of originally encoded episodes. Thus, ACC and posterior cingulate cortex activation seemed to serve both reactivating old and integrating new but similar information in episodic memory. Consistent with neural findings, participants recalled original objects less accurately when only presented with the same, but not varying, PE during fMRI. The current findings suggest that repeated PEs interact more strongly with a recalled original episodic memory than varying PEs.

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