Space and Time: The Hippocampus as a Sequence Generator

Trends Cogn Sci. 2018 Oct;22(10):853-869. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.07.006.


Neural computations are often compared to instrument-measured distance or duration, and such relationships are interpreted by a human observer. However, neural circuits do not depend on human-made instruments but perform computations relative to an internally defined rate-of-change. While neuronal correlations with external measures, such as distance or duration, can be observed in spike rates or other measures of neuronal activity, what matters for the brain is how such activity patterns are utilized by downstream neural observers. We suggest that hippocampal operations can be described by the sequential activity of neuronal assemblies and their internally defined rate of change without resorting to the concept of space or time.

Keywords: lateral septum; phase coding; place cells; theta oscillation; time cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*