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Memory on time

Considerable recent work has shown that the hippocampus is critical for remembering the order of events in distinct experiences, a defining feature of episodic memory. Correspondingly, hippocampal neuronal activity can ‘replay’ sequential events in memories and hippocampal neuronal ensembles represent a gradually changing temporal context signal. Most strikingly, single hippocampal neurons – called time cells – encode moments in temporally structured experiences much as the well-known place cells encode locations in spatially structured experiences. These observations bridge largely disconnected literatures on the role of the hippocampus in episodic memory and spatial mapping, and suggest that the fundamental function of the hippocampus is to establish spatio-temporal frameworks for organizing memories.

Howard Eichenbaum
Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14 January 2013

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