Bernhard Staresina, University of Birmingham
Making memories: how the human hippocampus binds, consolidates and retrieves experiences
Episodic memory, our ability to mentally relive past events and experiences, lies at the core of human cognition. Our episodic memories not only allow us to reminisce about the past, but they provide a coherent concept of the self and guide adaptive behavior for future challenges. Conversely, the debilitating effects of memory loss are evident in healthy ageing and in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. A full understanding of episodic memory formation is therefore of utmost importance for gaining fundamental insights into the mind, for optimizing learning strategies and for therapeutically combating memory loss or the recurrence of traumatic memories. In this talk, I will present three studies aimed at elucidating the role of the hippocampus in episodic memory. Using fMRI, I will first ask how the hippocampus binds different elements of our experience during initial learning. Next, I will present intracranial EEG data on the question how our memory machinery works while we sleep. Finally, I will present new single unit recordings asking how the hippocampus drives pattern completion in cortical sites during successful memory retrieval.