Neurons that structure memories of ordered experience in human

Neurons that structure memories of ordered experience in human

Date Posted:  October 27, 2021
Date Recorded:  October 26, 2021
CBMM Speaker(s):  Gabriel Kreiman, Jie Zhang
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Description: 

Gabariel Kreiman (on behalf of Jie Zheng), Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School

Abstract: The process of constructing temporal associations among related events is essential to episodic memory. However, what neural mechanism helps accomplish this function remains unclear. To address this question, we recorded single unit activity in humans while subjects performed a temporal order memory task. During encoding, subjects watched a series of clips (i.e., each clip consisted of 4 events) and were later instructed to retrieve the ordinal information of event sequences. We found that hippocampal neurons in humans could index specific orders of events with increased neuronal firings (i.e., rate order cells) or clustered spike timing relative to theta phases (i.e., phase order cells), which are transferrable across different encoding experiences (e.g., different clips). Rate order cells also increased their firing rates when subjects correctly retrieved the temporal information of their preferred ordered events. Phase order cells demonstrated stronger phase precessions at event transitions during encoding for clips whose ordinal information was subsequently correct retrieved. These results not only highlight the critical role of the hippocampus in structuring memories of continuous event sequences but also suggest a potential neural code representing temporal associations among events.

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