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PLoS Biol. 2016 Aug 5;14(8):e1002528. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002528. eCollection 2016 Aug.

The Temporal Signature of Memories: Identification of a General Mechanism for Dynamic Memory Replay in Humans.

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School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom.


Reinstatement of dynamic memories requires the replay of neural patterns that unfold over time in a similar manner as during perception. However, little is known about the mechanisms that guide such a temporally structured replay in humans, because previous studies used either unsuitable methods or paradigms to address this question. Here, we overcome these limitations by developing a new analysis method to detect the replay of temporal patterns in a paradigm that requires participants to mentally replay short sound or video clips. We show that memory reinstatement is accompanied by a decrease of low-frequency (8 Hz) power, which carries a temporal phase signature of the replayed stimulus. These replay effects were evident in the visual as well as in the auditory domain and were localized to sensory-specific regions. These results suggest low-frequency phase to be a domain-general mechanism that orchestrates dynamic memory replay in humans.

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