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Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Aug;16(8):427-36. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2012.06.006. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Percepts to recollections: insights from single neuron recordings in the human brain.

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Department of Neurosurgery, David Geffen School of Medicine and Semel Institute For Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Transformation of experience into memories that can guide future behavior is a common ability across species. However, only humans can declare their perceptions and memories of experienced events (episodes). The medial temporal lobe (MTL) is central to episodic memory, yet the neuronal code underlying the translation from sensory information to memory remains unclear. Recordings from neurons within the brain in patients who have electrodes implanted for clinical reasons provide an opportunity to bridge physiology with cognitive theories. Recent evidence illustrates several striking response properties of MTL neurons. Responses are selective yet invariant, associated with conscious perception, can be internally generated and modulated, and spontaneously retrieved. Representation of information by these neurons is highly explicit, suggesting abstraction of information for future conscious recall.

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