Contact: Jules Asher
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health
Caption: During breaks in trials when the rat was awake but inactive, areas in the brain's memory hub emitted split-second bursts of ripple-like electrical activity (SWRs). This indicated that the rat was mentally replaying an earlier experience in the maze. Individual neurons in the areas become associated with a particular place. These place cells spike when the animal is that place or -- it turns out -- is just mentally replaying the experience of being in that place. Embedded in the ripple-like signal above are place cells spiking in the same sequence as they did when the rat first walked through the maze (Color-coded hatch marks match the path in the maze.). Ratsí performance in the maze task faltered when these awake mental replay events were blocked, revealing that they are important for memory-guided decision-making.
Credit: Shantanu Jadhav, Ph.D., University of California San Francisco
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Related news release: Awake mental replay of past experiences critical for learning