Similarity breeds proximity: pattern similarity within and across contexts is related to later mnemonic judgments of temporal proximity

Neuron. 2014 Mar 5;81(5):1179-1189. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.01.042.


Experiences unfold over time, but little is known about the mechanisms that support the formation of coherent episodic memories for temporally extended events. Recent work in animals has provided evidence for signals in hippocampus that could link events across temporal gaps; however, it is unknown whether and how such signals might be related to later memory for temporal information in humans. We measured patterns of fMRI BOLD activity as people encoded items that were separated in time and manipulated the presence of shared or distinct context across items. We found that hippocampal pattern similarity in the BOLD response across trials predicted later temporal memory decisions when context changed. By contrast, pattern similarity in lateral occipital cortex was related to memory only when context remained stable. These data provide evidence in humans that representational stability in hippocampus across time may be a mechanism for temporal memory organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult