Human “neurons of time” encode specific moments in time


Hippocampal neurons fire at successive times in a time interval. This shows the firing activity of the temporal cell population (N = 128). Each row shows the firing activity for an individual time cell, averaged between trials. The x-axis corresponds to the time of the average test length. Neurons are ordered by the maximum fire velocity latency. Credit: Reddy et al., JNeurosci 2021

Hippocampal neurons are fired at specific times, according to research recently published in JNeurosci. Cells can contribute to memory by encoding information about the time and order of events.

Episodic memories are about remembering the “what, where and when” of past experiences. The “where” can be encoded by in the hippocampus, which shoots in response to specific locations. Rodents have that fire in response to specific moments in time — the “when” —but until recently it was not known whether the human brain also contained them.

Reddy et al. recorded the electrical activity of neurons in the hippocampus of patients with epilepsy undergoing invasive diagnostic follow-up for surgery. During the recording, participants viewed and memorized a sequence of 5 to 7 images. At random intervals, participants were asked about the next image in the sequence before it was resumed. Time-sensitive neurons fired during specific moments between tests, regardless of image. Neurons followed time, even for 10-second gaps with no images while participants waited. Researchers could decode different moments in time depending on the activity of the entire group of neurons.

These results demonstrate the contains time-tracking neurons.

Imagine a face reactivating the neurons that detect the face in humans

More information:
Neurons in the human hippocampus track moments in a sequence of events, JNeurosci (2021). DOI: 10.1523 / JNEUROSCI.3157-20.2021

Citation: Human “neurons of time” encode specific moments in time (2021, June 28) retrieved June 28, 2021 from -moments.html

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