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Imagine how flicking through your photo album and seeing a picture of a beach sunset brings back fond memories of a tasty cocktail you had that night. Computational models suggest that upon receiving a partial memory cue ('beach'), neurons in the hippocampus coordinate reinstatement of associated memories ('cocktail') in cortical target sites. Here, using human single neuron recordings, we show that hippocampal firing rates are elevated from ~ 500-1500 ms after cue onset during successful associative retrieval. Concurrently, the retrieved target object can be decoded from population spike patterns in adjacent entorhinal cortex (EC), with hippocampal firing preceding EC spikes and predicting the fidelity of EC object reinstatement. Prior to orchestrating reinstatement, a separate population of hippocampal neurons distinguishes different scene cues (buildings vs. landscapes). These results elucidate the hippocampal-entorhinal circuit dynamics for memory recall and reconcile disparate views on the role of the hippocampus in scene processing vs. associative memory.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Adult, Behavior, Cues, Electrophysiological Phenomena, Electrophysiology, Entorhinal Cortex, Female, Hippocampus, Humans, Male, Memory, Mental Recall, Middle Aged, Models, Neurological, Neurons, Temporal Lobe, Young Adult