Spiking activity in the human hippocampus prior to encoding predicts subsequent memory

Zhisen J. Urgolites, John T. Wixted, Stephen D. Goldinger, Megan H. Papesh, David M. Treiman, Larry R. Squire, Peter N. Steinmetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Encoding activity in the medial temporal lobe, presumably evoked by the presentation of stimuli (postonset activity), is known to predict subsequent memory. However, several independent lines of research suggest that preonset activity also affects subsequent memory. We investigated the role of preonset and postonset singleunit and multiunit activity recorded from epilepsy patients as they completed a continuous recognition task. In this task, words were presented in a continuous series and eventually began to repeat. For each word, the patient's task was to decide whether it was novel or repeated. We found that preonset spiking activity in the hippocampus (when the word was novel) predicted subsequent memory (when the word was later repeated). Postonset activity during encoding also predicted subsequentmemory, but was simply a continuation of preonset activity. The predictive effect of preonset spiking activitywasmuch stronger in the hippocampus than in three other brain regions (amygdala, anterior cingulate, and prefrontal cortex). In addition, preonset and postonset activity around the encoding of novel words did not predict memory performance for novel words (i.e., correctly classifying the word as novel), and preonset and postonset activity around the time of retrieval did not predict memory performance for repeated words (i.e., correctly classifying the word as repeated). Thus, the only predictive effect was between preonset activity (along with its postonset continuation) at the time of encoding and subsequent memory. Taken together, these findings indicate that preonset hippocampal activity does not reflect general arousal/attention but instead reflects what we term "attention to encoding".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13767-13770
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume117
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 16 2020

Keywords

  • Encoding
  • Human hippocampus
  • Multiunit activity
  • Single-unit activity
  • Subsequent memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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