Human episodic memory retrieval is accompanied by a neural contiguity effect
Howard, Marc W.
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Citation (published version)Sarah Folkerts, Ueli Rutishauser, Marc W Howard. 2018. "Human Episodic Memory Retrieval Is Accompanied by a Neural Contiguity Effect." JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, Volume 38, Issue 17, pp. 4200 - 4211 (12). https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2312-17.2018
Cognitive psychologists have long hypothesized that experiences are encoded in a temporal context that changes gradually over time. When an episodic memory is retrieved, the state of context is recovered—a jump back in time. We recorded from single units in the medial temporal lobe of epilepsy patients performing an item recognition task. The population vector changed gradually over minutes during presentation of the list. When a probe from the list was remembered with high confidence, the population vector reinstated the temporal context of the original presentation of that probe during study, a neural contiguity effect that provides a possible mechanism for behavioral contiguity effects. This pattern was only observed for well remembered probes; old probes that were not well remembered showed an anti-contiguity effect. These results constitute the first direct evidence that recovery of an episodic memory in humans is associated with retrieval of a gradually changing state of temporal context, a neural “jump back in time” that parallels the act of remembering.