The hippocampus: hub of brain network communication for memory
A complex brain network, centered on the hippocampus, supports episodic memories throughout their lifetimes. Classically, upon memory encoding during active behavior, hippocampal activity is dominated by theta oscillations (6–10 Hz). During inactivity, hippocampal neurons burst synchronously, constituting sharp waves, which can propagate to other structures, theoretically supporting memory consolidation. This ‘two-stage’ model has been updated by new data from high-density electrophysiological recordings in animals that shed light on how information is encoded and exchanged between hippocampus, neocortex and subcortical structures such as the striatum. Cell assemblies (tightly related groups of cells) discharge together and synchronize across brain structures orchestrated by theta, sharp waves and slow oscillations, to encode information. This evolving dynamical schema is key to extending our understanding of memory processes.