The hippocampus has long been implicated in both episodic and spatial memory, however these mnemonic functions have been traditionally investigated in separate research strands. Theoretical accounts and rodent data suggest a common mechanism for spatial and episodic memory in the hippocampus by providing an abstract and flexible representation of the external world. Here, we monitor the de novo formation of such a representation of space and time in humans using fMRI. After learning spatio-temporal trajectories in a large-scale virtual city, subject-specific neural similarity in the hippocampus scaled with the remembered proximity of events in space and time. Crucially, the structure of the entire spatio-temporal network was reflected in neural patterns. Our results provide evidence for a common coding mechanism underlying spatial and temporal aspects of episodic memory in the hippocampus and shed new light on its role in interleaving multiple episodes in a neural event map of memory space.
Keywords: fMRI; hippocampus; human; memory; neuroscience.