Incredibly fast memory reactivation revealed by EEG and TMS

A new study from the Hanslmayr lab published in the Journal of Neuroscience has shown that retrieving memories of events from our past may take place quicker than we previously thought – and it is possible to interfere with that process. The process of retrieving episodic memory, personal experiences that require revisiting sensory information received in the past, was believed to be a relatively slow process in the brain – taking around half a second. Using electroencephalography (EEG), which monitors neural activity with a high time resolution, the team showed that episodic retrieval starts with a very rapid reactivation of sensory brain areas. The findings provide the first neural evidence for this early sensory activation, and show that it actually takes between 0.1 and 0.2 seconds to recall the event. Furthermore, the initial activation of sensory brain areas was shown, for the first time, to be causally relevant for conscious remembering using TMS.

Read more about this study here.