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Schema cells in the macaque hippocampus

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Science  08 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6427, pp. 635-639
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav5404

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Abstract concepts in the primate brain

Do primates have neurons that encode the conceptual similarity between spaces that differ by their appearance but correspond to the same mental schema? Baraduc et al. recorded from monkey hippocampal neurons while the animals explored both a familiar environment and a novel virtual environment that shared the same general structure as the familiar environment but displayed never-before-seen landmarks. About one-third of hippocampal cells showed significantly correlated firing for both familiar and novel landscapes. These correlations hinged on space or task elements, rather than on immediate visual information. The functional features of these cells are analogous to human concept cells, which represent the meaning of a specific stimulus rather than its apparent visual properties.

Science, this issue p. 635