by Cen Yang, Yuji Naya
The ability to use stored information in a highly flexible manner is a defining feature of the declarative memory system. However, the neuronal mechanisms underlying this flexibility are poorly understood. To address this question, we recorded single-unit activity from the hippocampus of 2 nonhuman primates performing a newly devised task requiring the monkeys to retrieve long-term item-location association memory and then use it flexibly in different circumstances. We found that hippocampal neurons signaled both mnemonic information representing the retrieved location and perceptual information representing the external circumstance. The 2 signals were combined at a single-neuron level to construct goal-directed information by 3 sequentially occurring neuronal operations (e.g., convergence, transference, and targeting) in the hippocampus. Thus, flexible use of knowledge may be supported by the hippocampal constructive process linking memory and perception, which may fit the mnemonic information into the current situation to present manageable information for a subsequent action.