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      The hippocampus and exploration: dynamically evolving behavior and neural representations

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          We develop a normative statistical approach to exploratory behavior called information foraging. Information foraging highlights the specific processes that contribute to active, rather than passive, exploration and learning. We hypothesize that the hippocampus plays a critical role in active exploration through directed information foraging by supporting a set of processes that allow an individual to determine where to sample. By examining these processes, we show how information directed information foraging provides a formal theoretical explanation for the common hippocampal substrates of constructive memory, vicarious trial and error behavior, schema-based facilitation of memory performance, and memory consolidation.

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          Most cited references 77

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          Place navigation impaired in rats with hippocampal lesions.

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            Remembering the past to imagine the future: the prospective brain.

            A rapidly growing number of recent studies show that imagining the future depends on much of the same neural machinery that is needed for remembering the past. These findings have led to the concept of the prospective brain; an idea that a crucial function of the brain is to use stored information to imagine, simulate and predict possible future events. We suggest that processes such as memory can be productively re-conceptualized in light of this idea.
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              Remembering the past and imagining the future: common and distinct neural substrates during event construction and elaboration.

              People can consciously re-experience past events and pre-experience possible future events. This fMRI study examined the neural regions mediating the construction and elaboration of past and future events. Participants were cued with a noun for 20s and instructed to construct a past or future event within a specified time period (week, year, 5-20 years). Once participants had the event in mind, they made a button press and for the remainder of the 20s elaborated on the event. Importantly, all events generated were episodic and did not differ on a number of phenomenological qualities (detail, emotionality, personal significance, field/observer perspective). Conjunction analyses indicated the left hippocampus was commonly engaged by past and future event construction, along with posterior visuospatial regions, but considerable neural differentiation was also observed during the construction phase. Future events recruited regions involved in prospective thinking and generation processes, specifically right frontopolar cortex and left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, respectively. Furthermore, future event construction uniquely engaged the right hippocampus, possibly as a response to the novelty of these events. In contrast to the construction phase, elaboration was characterized by remarkable overlap in regions comprising the autobiographical memory retrieval network, attributable to the common processes engaged during elaboration, including self-referential processing, contextual and episodic imagery. This striking neural overlap is consistent with findings that amnesic patients exhibit deficits in both past and future thinking, and confirms that the episodic system contributes importantly to imagining the future.

                Author and article information

                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                25 July 2012
                : 6
                1simpleDepartment of Psychology, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota MN, USA
                2simpleDepartment of Computer Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA
                3simpleDepartment of Cognitive Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA
                4simpleDepartment of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN, USA
                Author notes

                Edited by: Joel Voss, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, USA

                Reviewed by: Joel Voss, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, USA; Howard Eichenbaum, Boston University, USA

                *Correspondence: Adam Johnson, Department of Psychology, Bethel University, 3900 Bethel Drive, St. Paul, Minnesota, MN 55112, USA. e-mail: adam-johnson@
                Copyright © 2012 Johnson, Varberg, Benhardus, Maahs and Schrater.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 0, Equations: 13, References: 102, Pages: 17, Words: 13373
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