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Memory, Imagination, and Predicting the Future: A Common Brain Mechanism?

Mullally SL, Maguire EA - Neuroscientist (2013)

Bottom Line: On the face of it, memory, imagination, and prediction seem to be distinct cognitive functions.However, metacognitive, cognitive, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging evidence is emerging that they are not, suggesting intimate links in their underlying processes.Here, we explore these empirical findings and the evolving theoretical frameworks that seek to explain how a common neural system supports our recollection of times past, imagination, and our attempts to predict the future.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Spatial navigation. (A) Recordings from the hippocampi of freely-moving rats show the presence of place cells that exhibit location-specific firing (Amaral and Witter, 1989, and Burgess and others 1999; reprinted with permission from Elsevier and Oxford University Press). The cell depicted here had its place field in the upper right corner of the arena. (B) When humans navigated routes around a virtual reality version of central London, UK, during fMRI scanning, their hippocampus was engaged (from Spiers and Maguire, 2006). Map reproduced by permission of Geographers’ A-Z Map Co. Ltd. © Crown Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. Licence number 100017302.
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fig3-1073858413495091: Spatial navigation. (A) Recordings from the hippocampi of freely-moving rats show the presence of place cells that exhibit location-specific firing (Amaral and Witter, 1989, and Burgess and others 1999; reprinted with permission from Elsevier and Oxford University Press). The cell depicted here had its place field in the upper right corner of the arena. (B) When humans navigated routes around a virtual reality version of central London, UK, during fMRI scanning, their hippocampus was engaged (from Spiers and Maguire, 2006). Map reproduced by permission of Geographers’ A-Z Map Co. Ltd. © Crown Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. Licence number 100017302.

Mentions: Memory, however, is not the only function that has been ascribed to the hippocampus. In the 1970s, O’Keefe and Dostrovsky (1971) discovered cells in the rat hippocampus that displayed location-specific firing (so-called “place cells”; Fig. 3A), and damage to the hippocampus was found to severely disrupt spatial navigation ability (Morris and others 1982). This evidence prompted O’Keefe and Nadel (1978) to suggest the hippocampus plays a key role in both memory and spatial navigation. Although this idea has been debated (Cohen and Eichenbaum 1991), the onus remains on theoretical accounts of hippocampal function to explain the mnemonic (Spiers and others 2001) and navigation (Fig. 3B; Maguire and others 2006) deficits observed in patients following bilateral hippocampal damage (Burgess and others 2002). But it seems that even explaining memory and navigation is not sufficient; as the links between memory, imagination, and thinking about the future have crystallized, evidence has started to accrue implicating the hippocampus and the core network in these latter functions also. In fact, there has been an explosion of interest in this domain, with Klein (2013) noting a 10-fold increase in investigative activity in the last five years. So what is the evidence that a common neural system, which includes the hippocampus, underpins memory, imagination, and prediction of the future?


Memory, Imagination, and Predicting the Future: A Common Brain Mechanism?

Mullally SL, Maguire EA - Neuroscientist (2013)

Spatial navigation. (A) Recordings from the hippocampi of freely-moving rats show the presence of place cells that exhibit location-specific firing (Amaral and Witter, 1989, and Burgess and others 1999; reprinted with permission from Elsevier and Oxford University Press). The cell depicted here had its place field in the upper right corner of the arena. (B) When humans navigated routes around a virtual reality version of central London, UK, during fMRI scanning, their hippocampus was engaged (from Spiers and Maguire, 2006). Map reproduced by permission of Geographers’ A-Z Map Co. Ltd. © Crown Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. Licence number 100017302.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2 - License 3
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4232337&req=5

fig3-1073858413495091: Spatial navigation. (A) Recordings from the hippocampi of freely-moving rats show the presence of place cells that exhibit location-specific firing (Amaral and Witter, 1989, and Burgess and others 1999; reprinted with permission from Elsevier and Oxford University Press). The cell depicted here had its place field in the upper right corner of the arena. (B) When humans navigated routes around a virtual reality version of central London, UK, during fMRI scanning, their hippocampus was engaged (from Spiers and Maguire, 2006). Map reproduced by permission of Geographers’ A-Z Map Co. Ltd. © Crown Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. Licence number 100017302.
Mentions: Memory, however, is not the only function that has been ascribed to the hippocampus. In the 1970s, O’Keefe and Dostrovsky (1971) discovered cells in the rat hippocampus that displayed location-specific firing (so-called “place cells”; Fig. 3A), and damage to the hippocampus was found to severely disrupt spatial navigation ability (Morris and others 1982). This evidence prompted O’Keefe and Nadel (1978) to suggest the hippocampus plays a key role in both memory and spatial navigation. Although this idea has been debated (Cohen and Eichenbaum 1991), the onus remains on theoretical accounts of hippocampal function to explain the mnemonic (Spiers and others 2001) and navigation (Fig. 3B; Maguire and others 2006) deficits observed in patients following bilateral hippocampal damage (Burgess and others 2002). But it seems that even explaining memory and navigation is not sufficient; as the links between memory, imagination, and thinking about the future have crystallized, evidence has started to accrue implicating the hippocampus and the core network in these latter functions also. In fact, there has been an explosion of interest in this domain, with Klein (2013) noting a 10-fold increase in investigative activity in the last five years. So what is the evidence that a common neural system, which includes the hippocampus, underpins memory, imagination, and prediction of the future?

Bottom Line: On the face of it, memory, imagination, and prediction seem to be distinct cognitive functions.However, metacognitive, cognitive, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging evidence is emerging that they are not, suggesting intimate links in their underlying processes.Here, we explore these empirical findings and the evolving theoretical frameworks that seek to explain how a common neural system supports our recollection of times past, imagination, and our attempts to predict the future.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus