Replay of very early encoding representations during recollection

J Neurosci. 2014 Jan 1;34(1):242-8. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1865-13.2014.


Long-term memories are linked to cortical representations of perceived events, but it is unclear which types of representations can later be recollected. Using magnetoencephalography-based decoding, we examined which brain activity patterns elicited during encoding are later replayed during recollection in the human brain. The results show that the recollection of images depicting faces and scenes is associated with a replay of neural representations that are formed at very early (180 ms) stages of encoding. This replay occurs quite rapidly, ~500 ms after the onset of a cue that prompts recollection and correlates with source memory accuracy. Therefore, long-term memories are rapidly replayed during recollection and involve representations that were formed at very early stages of encoding. These findings indicate that very early representational information can be preserved in the memory engram and can be faithfully and rapidly reinstated during recollection. These novel insights into the nature of the memory engram provide constraints for mechanistic models of long-term memory function.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography / methods
  • Male
  • Memory, Long-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult