Functional MRI Shows How Brain Organizes Memories

A hypothesis-based functional MRI (fMRI) study of hippocampal activity during memory formation found that the hippocampus organizes discrete, disparate events into a coherent narrative, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, in a study published online September 29, 2021, in Current Biology.

Lead author Brendan Cohn-Sheehy, et al., wrote that “even though life’s events occur at disparate times, the hippocampus can form memories that integrate events into a larger, coherent narrative. By bridging the divide between distant events, the hippocampus may support a narrative-level architecture for episodic memory.”

The team says that their findings offer a fascinating look into how the brain integrates information. “[Our] findings suggest that, rather than simply integrating memories of overlapping experiences, the hippocampus supports the construction of narratives that integrate distant events in memory,” they concluded.


Brendan I. Cohn-Sheehy, Angelique I. Delarazan, Zachariah M. Reagh, Jordan E. Crivelli-Decker, Kamin Kim, Alexander J. Barnett, Jeffrey M. Zacks, Charan Ranganath. The hippocampus constructs narrative memories across distant events. Current Biology. Available online 29 September 2021. Accessed October 11, 2021, at

Yee, Kate. fMRI shows how brain organizes memories into a single narrative. October 4, 2021, at Accessed October 11, 2021.

An illustration of the location of the hippocampus.