Temporal dissociation of neocortical and hippocampal contributions to mental time travel using intracranial recordings in humans

Roey Schurr, Mor Nitzan, Ruth Eliahou, Laurent Spinelli, Margitta Seeck, Olaf Blanke, Shahar Arzy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In mental time travel (MTT) one is “traveling” back-and-forth in time, remembering, and imagining events. Despite intensive research regarding memory processes in the hippocampus, it was only recently shown that the hippocampus plays an essential role in encoding the temporal order of events remembered, and therefore plays an important role in MTT. Does it also encode the temporal relations of these events to the remembering self? We asked patients undergoing pre-surgical evaluation with depth electrodes penetrating the temporal lobes bilaterally toward the hippocampus to project themselves in time to a past, future, or present time-point, and then make judgments regarding various events. Classification analysis of intracranial evoked potentials revealed clear temporal dissociation in the left hemisphere between lateral-temporal electrodes, activated at ∼100–300ms, and hippocampal electrodes, activated at ∼400–600ms. This dissociation may suggest a division of labor in the temporal lobe during self-projection in time, hinting toward the different roles of the lateral-temporal cortex and the hippocampus in MTT and the temporal organization of the related events with respect to the experiencing self.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number11
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank our patients for their kind agreement to participate in the study. MN is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship.

Funding Information:
The study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation and the Agnes Ginges Center for Neurogenetics.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Schurr, Nitzan, Eliahou, Spinelli, Seeck, Blanke and Arzy.


  • Episodic memory
  • Hippocampus
  • Lateral temporal
  • Mental time travel
  • Self-projection
  • Self-reference
  • sEEG


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