Distinct neural mechanisms for remembering when an event occurred

Lucas J. Jenkins, Charan Ranganath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Events are often remembered as having occurred in a specific order, but almost nothing is known about how the brain encodes this temporal information. It is commonly assumed that temporal information is encoded via a single mechanism, based either on the temporal context in which the event occurred or inferred from the strength of the memory trace itself. By analyzing time-dependent changes in activity patterns, we show that the distinctiveness of contextual representations in the hippocampus and anterior and medial prefrontal cortex was associated with accurate recency memory. In contrast, overall activation in the perirhinal and lateral prefrontal cortices predicted whether an object would be judged more recent, regardless of accuracy. These results demonstrate that temporal information was encoded through at least two complementary neural mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)554-559
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Episodic memory
  • Functional MRI
  • Recency discrimination
  • Temporal context
  • Temporal order memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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