Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Constant Sub-second Cycling between Representations of Possible Futures in the Hippocampus

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.

Cognitive faculties such as imagination, planning, and decision-making entail the ability to represent hypothetical experience. Crucially, animal behavior in natural settings implies that the brain can represent hypothetical future experience not only quickly but also constantly over time, as external events continually unfold. To determine how this is possible, we recorded neural activity in the hippocampus of rats navigating a maze with multiple spatial paths. We found neural activity encoding two possible future scenarios (two upcoming maze paths) in constant alternation at 8 Hz: one scenario per ∼125-ms cycle. Further, we found that the underlying dynamics of cycling (both inter- and intra-cycle dynamics) generalized across qualitatively different representational correlates (location and direction). Notably, cycling occurred across moving behaviors, including during running. These findings identify a general dynamic process capable of quickly and continually representing hypothetical experience, including that of multiple possible futures.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item