Speed of time-compressed forward replay flexibly changes in human episodic memory.
Michelmann S., Staresina BP., Bowman H., Hanslmayr S.
Remembering information from continuous past episodes is a complex task1. On the one hand, we must be able to recall events in a highly accurate way, often including exact timings. On the other hand, we can ignore irrelevant details and skip to events of interest. Here, we track continuous episodes consisting of different subevents as they are recalled from memory. In behavioural and magnetoencephalography data, we show that memory replay is temporally compressed and proceeds in a forward direction. Neural replay is characterized by the reinstatement of temporal patterns from encoding2,3. These fragments of activity reappear on a compressed timescale. Herein, the replay of subevents takes longer than the transition from one subevent to another. This identifies episodic memory replay as a dynamic process in which participants replay fragments of fine-grained temporal patterns and are able to skip flexibly across subevents.