Hippocampal **Time Cells** Bridge the Gap in Memory for

Hippocampal ‘‘Time Cells’’ Bridge
the Gap in Memory for
Discontiguous Events
August, 2011
About the author –
Howard Eichenbaum
• Research Interests:
• The hippocampus plays a critical role in memory
formation, but our understanding of just what the
hippocampus does and how it performs its functions
are still issues of considerable controversy. To enhance
our knowledge about hippocampal function, we are
pursuing a combination of neuropsychological studies
of the nature of memory loss in animals with damage
to the hippocampus and related cortical areas, and we
are pursuing electrophysiological recording studies that
seek to determine how information is represented by
the hippocampus and associated cortical areas.
• A fundamental feature of episodic memory is
the temporal organization of serial events that
compose a unique experience.
• Considerable data indicate that the
hippocampus is critical to episodic memory in
human and animals.
• ‘Place cells’ was found in hippocampus.
• How do hippocampal neurons represent the
temporal organization of extended
experiences and bridge temporal gaps
between discontiguous events?
4 Rats
333 putative pyramidal neurons were isolated in the pyramidal cell layer of dorsal CA1.
• They next examined whether time cells
consistently represented absolute or relative time
within the delay when the duration of that period
was altered. For two rats, the delay in the first
block was approximately the standard 10 s. The
second block of trials began with an abrupt and
approximate doubling of the delay. In the third
block the delay was returned to the standard. For
the third rat the first delay was 5.7 s, the second
11.6 s, and the third 19.8 s.
• A large proportion of hippocampal neurons are engaged during
performance of a sequence memory task, just as a large fraction of
hippocampal neurons are place cells when rats are engaged in
spatial exploration
• Time cells fire at discrete moments during ‘‘empty’’ periods in a
temporally organized memory, much as place cells encode discrete
locations devoid of specific stimuli as animals traverse an open
• Hippocampal neural activity signals the nature and timing of salient
events that occur at particular moments in temporal sequences,
just as place cells encode specific events in the locations they occur
in space
• Time cells disambiguate overlapping sequence memories, just as
place cells disambiguate overlapping routes through a maze
• Time cells partially ‘‘retime’’ when a key temporal parameter is
altered, just as place cells partially ‘‘remap’’ when critical spatial
cues are altered
Thank you!
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