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Retrospective and Prospective Views on the Role of the Hippocampus in Interval Timing and Memory for Elapsed Time

In: Timing & Time Perception
Authors:
Christopher J. MacDonald 1Picower Institute for Learning and Memory & RIKEN–MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

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Norbert J. Fortin 2Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA

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Shogo Sakata 3Department of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan

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Warren H. Meck 4Systems and Integrative Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

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The overlap of neural circuits involved in episodic memory, relational learning, trace conditioning, and interval timing suggests the importance of hippocampal-dependent processes. Identifying the functional and neural mechanisms whereby the hippocampus plays a role in timing and decision-making, however, has been elusive. In this article we describe recent neurobiological findings, including the discovery of hippocampal ‘time cells’, dependency of duration discriminations in the minutes range on hippocampal function, and the correlation of hippocampal theta rhythm with specific features of temporal processing. These results provide novel insights into the ways in which the hippocampus might interact with the striatum in order to support both retrospective and prospective timing. Suggestions are also provided for future research on the role of the hippocampus in memory for elapsed time.

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