Key Features of Human Episodic Recollection in the Cross-Episode Retrieval of Rat Hippocampus Representations of Space

Eduard Kelemen, André A. Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurophysiological studies focus on memory retrieval as a reproduction of what was experienced and have established that neural discharge is replayed to express memory. However, cognitive psychology has established that recollection is not a verbatim replay of stored information. Recollection is constructive, the product of memory retrieval cues, the information stored in memory, and the subject's state of mind. We discovered key features of constructive recollection embedded in the rat CA1 ensemble discharge during an active avoidance task. Rats learned two task variants, one with the arena stable, the other with it rotating; each variant defined a distinct behavioral episode. During the rotating episode, the ensemble discharge of CA1 principal neurons was dynamically organized to concurrently represent space in two distinct codes. The code for spatial reference frame switched rapidly between representing the rat's current location in either the stationary spatial frame of the room or the rotating frame of the arena. The code for task variant switched less frequently between a representation of the current rotating episode and the stable episode from the rat's past. The characteristics and interplay of these two hippocampal codes revealed three key properties of constructive recollection. (1) Although the ensemble representations of the stable and rotating episodes were distinct, ensemble discharge during rotation occasionally resembled the stable condition, demonstrating cross-episode retrieval of the representation of the remote, stable episode. (2) This cross-episode retrieval at the level of the code for task variant was more likely when the rotating arena was about to match its orientation in the stable episode. (3) The likelihood of cross-episode retrieval was influenced by preretrieval information that was signaled at the level of the code for spatial reference frame. Thus key features of episodic recollection manifest in rat hippocampal representations of space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001607
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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