A connectionist model is presented, the TraceLink model, that implements an autonomous "off-line" consolidation process. The model consists of three subsystems: (1) a trace system (neocortex), (2) a link system (hippocampus and adjacent regions), and (3) a modulatory system (basal forebrain and other areas). The model is able to account for many of the characteristics of anterograde and retrograde amnesia, including Ribot gradients, transient global amnesia, patterns of shrinkage of retrograde amnesia, and correlations between anterograde and retrograde amnesia or the absence thereof (e.g., in isolated retrograde amnesia). In addition, it produces normal forgetting curves and can exhibit permastore. It also offers an explanation for the advantages of learning under high arousal or long-term retention. © 2005 Psychology Press Ltd.