From continuous streams to segmented units: Understanding how events structure cognition and memory


Our experience unravels in a continuous and forward manner yet perception appears punctuated by objects and events. Our episodic memories are also snapshots of that continuous experience. The mechanism by which continuous input is segmented and the role of those for episodic memories are beginning to be understood. We have used tasks involving artificial sequences, visual narratives, and continuous visual presentation of images in conjunction with magnetoencephalography and electrocorticography to understand the mechanism supporting segmentation and encoding of sequences. We found evidence of multiple timescales of processing in different frequencies and for hierarchical representation of sequences from simpler features such as coding of transitional probability, to more complex coding of ordinal position and even chunks. Extracting those events have important consequences for memory for temporal order such that order is better preserved and remembered within an event than across an event. I will discuss a model linking event segmentation to episodic memory.


Dr Lucia Melloni received her PhD in Psychology from the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile and the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt, Germany. She is currently a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and a research professor in the neurology department at New York University Langone Health. Her lab is broadly interested in understanding the neural underpinnings of how we see (perception), how and why we experience what we see (consciousness), and how those experiences get imprinted in our brain (learning and memory) - as well as the interplay between these processes. She uses multiple methods to address these questions, ranging from electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods to behavioral techniques and online surveys.

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