A neural signature of pattern separation in the monkey hippocampus

John J. Sakon, Wendy A. Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The CA3 and dentate gyrus (DG) regions of the hippocampus are considered key for disambiguating sensory inputs from similar experiences in memory, a process termed pattern separation. The neural mechanisms underlying pattern separation, however, have been difficult to compare across species: rodents offer robust recording methods with less human-centric tasks, while humans provide complex behavior with less recording potential. To overcome these limitations, we trained monkeys to perform a visual pattern separation task similar to those used in humans while recording activity from single CA3/DG neurons. We find that, when animals discriminate recently seen novel images from similar (lure) images, behavior indicative of pattern separation, CA3/DG neurons respond to lure images more like novel than repeat images. Using a population of these neurons, we are able to classify novel, lure, and repeat images from each other using this pattern of firing rates. Notably, one subpopulation of these neurons is more responsible for distinguishing lures and repeats—the key discrimination indicative of pattern separation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9634-9643
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 7 2019


  • Electrophysiology
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Pattern separation
  • Primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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