Holistic Recollection via Pattern Completion Involves Hippocampal Subfield CA3

J Neurosci. 2019 Oct 9;39(41):8100-8111. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0722-19.2019. Epub 2019 Aug 12.


Episodic memories typically comprise multiple elements. A defining characteristic of episodic retrieval is holistic recollection, i.e., comprehensive recall of the elements a memorized event encompasses. A recent study implicated activity in the human hippocampus with holistic recollection of multi-element events based on cues (Horner et al., 2015). Here, we obtained ultra-high resolution functional neuroimaging data at 7 tesla in 30 younger adults (12 female) using the same paradigm. In accordance with anatomically inspired computational models and animal research, we found that metabolic activity in hippocampal subfield CA3 (but less pronounced in dentate gyrus) correlated with this form of mnemonic pattern completion across participants. Our study provides the first evidence in humans for a strong involvement of hippocampal subfield CA3 in holistic recollection via pattern completion.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Memories of daily events usually involve multiple elements, although a single element can be sufficient to prompt recollection of the whole event. Such holistic recollection is thought to require reactivation of brain activity representing the full event from one event element ("pattern completion"). Computational and animal models suggest that mnemonic pattern completion is accomplished in a specific subregion of the hippocampus called CA3, but empirical evidence in humans was lacking. Here, we leverage the ultra-high resolution of 7 tesla neuroimaging to provide first evidence for a strong involvement of the human CA3 in holistic recollection of multi-element events via pattern completion.

Keywords: 7 T fMRI; hippocampal subfields; medial temporal lobe; memory; pattern completion; recollection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / diagnostic imaging
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / metabolism
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reading
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Young Adult