Neural Temporal Context Reinstatement of Event Structure During Memory Recall

Lynn J. Lohnas, M. Karl Healey, Lila Davachi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The transformation of experiences into meaningful events and memories is intertwined with the notion of time. Temporal perception can influence, and be influenced by, segmenting continuous experience into meaningful events. Episodic memories formed from these events become associated with temporal information as well. However, it is less clear how temporal perception contributes to structuring events and organizing memory: whether it plays a more active or passive role, and whether this temporal information is encoded initially during perception or influenced by retrieval processes. To address these questions, we examined how event segmentation influences temporal representations during initial perception and memory retrieval, without testing temporal information explicitly. Using a neural measure of temporal context extracted from scalp electroencephalography in human participants (N = 170), we found reduced temporal context similarity between studied items separated by an event boundary when compared to items from the same event. Furthermore, while participants freely recalled list items, neural activity reflected reinstatement of temporal context representations from the study phase, including temporal disruption. A computational model of episodic memory, the context maintenance and retrieval (CMR) model, predicted these results, and made novel predictions regarding the influence of temporal disruption on recall order. These findings implicate the impact of event structure on memory organization via temporal representations, underscoring the role of temporal information in event segmentation and episodic memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1840-1872
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 10 2023


  • electroencephalography
  • episodic memory
  • event segmentation
  • free-recall

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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