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Discovering event structure in continuous narrative perception and memory

By Christopher A Baldassano, Janice Chen, Asieh Zadbood, Jonathan W Pillow, Uri Hasson, Kenneth A. Norman

Posted 14 Oct 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/081018 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.06.041)

During realistic, continuous perception, humans automatically segment experiences into discrete events. Using a novel model of neural event dynamics, we investigate how cortical structures generate event representations during continuous narratives, and how these events are stored and retrieved from long-term memory. Our data-driven approach enables identification of event boundaries and event correspondences across datasets without human-generated stimulus annotations, and reveals that different regions segment narratives at different timescales. We also provide the first direct evidence that narrative event boundaries in high-order areas (overlapping the default mode network) trigger encoding processes in the hippocampus, and that this encoding activity predicts pattern reinstatement during recall. Finally, we demonstrate that these areas represent abstract, multimodal situation models, and show anticipatory event reinstatement as subjects listen to a familiar narrative. Our results provide strong evidence that brain activity is naturally structured into semantically meaningful events, which are stored in and retrieved from long-term memory.

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