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CCN talk November 20, 2013

Matt van der MeerMatt van der Meer

Department of Biology and Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, University of Waterloo

Title: Spike timing, sequences, and model-based prediction in the rat hippocampus

Time: 4:00 - 5:00

Place: Moore Hall, Room B3

video of van der Meer talk


The hippocampus is a brain structure most famously associated with episodic memory -- the ability to recall what happened on our 18th birthday, or where we parked our car this morning. By recording from ensembles of neurons in the rat hippocampus, we can ask how neural activity during experience relates to subsequent memory recall and behavioral choice, at fine timescales. Decoding these neural ensembles reveals that the hippocampus compresses ongoing experience into repeating theta sequences, which can dynamically "look ahead" or "look behind" the animal. Furthermore, subsequent recall is not limited to literal "replay" of experience but includes, for instance, sequences not previously experienced. Finally, neurons in the ventral striatum, a reward-related brain structure that receives inputs from the hippocampus, participate in these hippocampal timing phenomena. Taken together, these observations elucidate how hippocampal memories may contribute to a predictive world model useful for, say, taking a shortcut directly to your car in the parking lot.

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