Contextual and pure time coding for self and other in the hippocampus

David B. Omer*, Liora Las, Nachum Ulanovsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Navigation and episodic memory depend critically on representing temporal sequences. Hippocampal ‘time cells’ form temporal sequences, but it is unknown whether they represent context-dependent experience or time per se. Here we report on time cells in bat hippocampal area CA1, which, surprisingly, formed two distinct populations. One population of time cells generated different temporal sequences when the bat hung at different locations, thus conjunctively encoding spatial context and time—‘contextual time cells’. A second population exhibited similar preferred times across different spatial contexts, thus purely encoding elapsed time. When examining neural responses after the landing moment of another bat, in a social imitation task, we found time cells that encoded temporal sequences aligned to the other’s landing. We propose that these diverse time codes may support the perception of interval timing, episodic memory and temporal coordination between self and others.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)285-294
Number of pages10
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.


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