Traditionally, the hippocampal system has been studied in relation to the goal of retrieving memories about the past. Recent work in humans and rodents suggests that the hippocampal system may be better understood as a system that facilitates predictions about upcoming events. The hippocampus and associated cortical structures are active when people envision future events, and damage that includes the hippocampal region impairs this ability. In rats, hippocampal ensembles preplay and replay event sequences in the absence of overt behavior. If strung together in novel combinations, these sequences could provide the neural building blocks for simulating upcoming events during decision-making, planning, and when imagining novel scenarios. Moreover, in both humans and rodents, the hippocampal system is spontaneously active during task-free epochs and sleep, further suggesting that the system may use idle moments to derive new representations that set the context for future behaviors.
"In humans, functional magnetic resonance imaging studies suggest that the hippocampus is strongly activated by episodic memory retrieval but is activated to an even greater degree when imagining the future than remembering the past (Addis & Schacter 2011, Buckner 2010). Because memories are used for constructing imaginary events, and because imagined events (and the experience of imagining them) likely are then stored in memory for future use, imagining and remembering are almost intractably intertwined and at the very least difficult to separate in an experimental paradigm. "
"In addition, given that predictive processes are inherently sequential and given that language comprehension usually deals with sequential input, we assumed that more domaingeneral systems responsible for various types of prediction and sequential processing (such as e.g., the hippocampal system, cf. Addis, Cheng, Roberts, & Schacter, 2011; Buckner, 2010; Fortin, Agster, & Eichenbaum, 2002; Gaesser, Spreng, McLelland, Addis, & Schacter, 2013; Lisman & Redish, 2009) contribute to linguistic predictions as well. "
"Generating a visual image (in the absence of sensory input) depends on imagination which relies on imaging (Conway 2009). As discussed earlier, imagining the future relies on imaginative re-association of past events (Szpunar, Watson et al. 2007; Addis, Pan et al. 2009; Addis and Schacter 2011) and such re-association enables predictions (Buckner 2010). "
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