Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, ArtLab Foyer
The Westend Lectures on Brain and Cognition with Charan Ranganath:
Episodic Memory: It's time to get real
For over a century, researchers have studied memory for events, or “episodic memory,” by examining recall or recognition of words or objects. In studies of nonhuman animals, memory is studied through paradigms that involve spatial learning, or from analyses of hippocampal neurons during uncontrolled movement. These kinds of studies have revealed important insights, but they might provide a relatively narrow window into how memory works in the real world. In particular, we know surprisingly little about fundamental aspects of how complex events are processed and represented in the brain. I will describe some lines of research that address this gap by examining: (1) how temporal structure is represented in memory, (2) how contextually-linked memories may be modulated or transformed over time, and (3) how the structure of events and episodes is represented by the brain online, and during episodic memory retrieval. Collectively, these findings support the idea that knowledge about events, online event models, and representations of specific past events are supported by a distributed network of posterior medial and medial prefrontal cortical regions.