Moment-by-moment tracking of naturalistic learning and its underlying hippocampo-cortical interactions
Humans form lasting memories of stimuli that were only encountered once. This naturally occurs when listening to a story, however it remains unclear how and when memories are stored and retrieved during story-listening. Here, we first confirm in behavioral experiments that participants can learn about the structure of a story after a single exposure and are able to recall upcoming words when the story is presented again. We then track mnemonic information in high frequency activity (70–200 Hz) as patients undergoing electrocorticographic recordings listen twice to the same story. We demonstrate predictive recall of upcoming information through neural responses in auditory processing regions. This neural measure correlates with behavioral measures of event segmentation and learning. Event boundaries are linked to information flow from cortex to hippocampus. When listening for a second time, information flow from hippocampus to cortex precedes moments of predictive recall. These results provide insight on a fine-grained temporal scale into how episodic memory encoding and retrieval work under naturalistic conditions.