Long-term coding of personal and universal associations underlying the memory web in the human brain

Nat Commun. 2016 Nov 15:7:13408. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13408.


Neurons in the medial temporal lobe (MTL), a critical area for declarative memory, have been shown to change their tuning in associative learning tasks. Yet, it is unclear how durable these neuronal representations are and if they outlast the execution of the task. To address this issue, we studied the responses of MTL neurons in neurosurgical patients to known concepts (people and places). Using association scores provided by the patients and a web-based metric, here we show that whenever MTL neurons respond to more than one concept, these concepts are typically related. Furthermore, the degree of association between concepts could be successfully predicted based on the neurons' response patterns. These results provide evidence for a long-term involvement of MTL neurons in the representation of durable associations, a hallmark of human declarative memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electrodes
  • Electrophysiology
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology