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Hippocampal replay in the awake state: a potential substrate for memory consolidation and retrieval



The hippocampus is required for the encoding, consolidation and retrieval of event memories. Although the neural mechanisms that underlie these processes are only partially understood, a series of recent papers point to awake memory replay as a potential contributor to both consolidation and retrieval. Replay is the sequential reactivation of hippocampal place cells that represent previously experienced behavioral trajectories and occurs frequently in the awake state, particularly during periods of relative immobility. Awake replay may reflect trajectories through either the current environment or previously visited environments that are spatially remote. The repetition of learned sequences on a compressed time scale is well suited to promote memory consolidation in distributed circuits beyond the hippocampus, suggesting that consolidation occurs in both the awake and sleeping animal. Moreover, sensory information can influence the content of awake replay, suggesting a role for awake replay in memory retrieval.

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Figure 1: Place cell sequences experienced during behavior are replayed in both the forward and reverse direction during awake SWRs.
Figure 2: Awake replay reinstates representations of both current and past experiences.
Figure 3: Spatial inputs could lead to retrieval of either local or remote sequences.


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Carr, M., Jadhav, S. & Frank, L. Hippocampal replay in the awake state: a potential substrate for memory consolidation and retrieval. Nat Neurosci 14, 147–153 (2011).

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