The Role of Hippocampal Replay in Memory and Planning

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The mammalian hippocampus is important for normal memory function, particularly memory for places and events. Place cells, neurons within the hippocampus that have spatial receptive fields, represent information about an animal's position. During periods of rest, but also during active task engagement, place cells spontaneously recapitulate past trajectories. Such ‘replay’ has been proposed as a mechanism necessary for a range of neurobiological functions, including systems memory consolidation, recall and spatial working memory, navigational planning, and reinforcement learning. Focusing mainly, but not exclusively, on work conducted in rodents, we describe the methodologies used to analyse replay and review evidence for its putative roles. We identify outstanding questions as well as apparent inconsistencies in existing data, making suggestions as to how these might be resolved. In particular, we find support for the involvement of replay in disparate processes, including the maintenance of hippocampal memories and decision making. We propose that the function of replay changes dynamically according to task demands placed on an organism and its current level of arousal. Olafsdottir et al. explore the involvement of replay in consolidating hippocampal memories and guiding decision making, arguing that distinct forms of replay — which can switch dynamically — support these two functions.




Ólafsdóttir, H. F., Bush, D., & Barry, C. (2018, January 8). The Role of Hippocampal Replay in Memory and Planning. Current Biology. Cell Press.

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