'Zipping' and 'unzipping' the hippocampal index code


Bruce McNaughton

(University of California, Irvine)

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Date: October 18, 2016


There is a long-standing tension between the notion that the hippocampal formation is essentially a spatial mapping system, and the notion that it plays an essential role in the establishment of episodic memory and the consolidation of such memory into structured knowledge about the world.  One theory that resolves this tension is the notion that the hippocampus generates rather arbitrary ‘index’ codes that serve initially to link attributes of episodic memories that are stored in widely dispersed and only weakly connected neocortical modules.  I will show how an essentially ‘spatial’ coding mechanism, with some tweaks, provides an ideal indexing system and discuss the neural coding strategies that the hippocampus apparently uses to overcome some biological constraints affecting the possibility of shipping the index code out widely to the neocortex.  Finally, I will present new data suggesting that the hippocampal index code is indeed transferred to layer II-III of the neocortex.

Created: Friday, October 20th, 2017