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Journal Article

Activity of human hippocampal and amygdala neurons during retrieval of declarative memories

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Schuman,  Erin M.
Synaptic Plasticity Department, Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Rutishauser, U., Schuman, E. M., & Mamelak, A. N. (2007). Activity of human hippocampal and amygdala neurons during retrieval of declarative memories. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 105(1), 329-34. doi:10.1073/pnas.0706015105.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-EF38-E
Abstract
Episodic memories allow us to remember not only that we have seen an item before but also where and when we have seen it (context). Sometimes, we can confidently report that we have seen something (familiarity) but cannot recollect where or when it was seen. Thus, the two components of episodic recall, familiarity and recollection, can be behaviorally dissociated. It is not clear, however, whether these two components of memory are represented separately by distinct brain structures or different populations of neurons in a single anatomical structure. Here, we report that the spiking activity of single neurons in the human hippocampus and amygdala [the medial temporal lobe (MTL)] contain information about both components of memory. We analyzed a class of neurons that changed its firing rate to the second presentation of a previously novel stimulus. We found that the neuronal activity evoked by the presentation of a familiar stimulus (during retrieval) distinguishes stimuli that will be successfully recollected from stimuli that will not be recollected. Importantly, the ability to predict whether a stimulus is familiar is not influenced by whether the stimulus will later be recollected. We thus conclude that human MTL neurons contain information about both components of memory. These data support a continuous strength of memory model of MTL function: the stronger the neuronal response, the better the memory.