Rat Remembers Maze It Just Ran.

MIT Professor Matt Wilson found that after running a maze, rats mentally replay the action - backwards!

... following a spatial experience such as running laps on a track, the awake animal replays the memory so precisely that its recorded brain activity corresponds exactly to the places it has just been. However, to the researchers' surprise, the episode is replayed in time-reverse order, with the most recent locations first, proceeding sequentially back to the beginning of the task.

This backward instant replay may play a significant role in reinforcing learning, Wilson said. "Understanding this replay is likely to be critical in understanding how animals - and humans - learn from experience. This phenomenon may constitute a general mechanism of learning and memory."


This reminds me of a technique called "backwards buildup" that I was taught years ago at college. In that case we were memorizing lengthy stories word-for-word for oral recitation, and we found that we had more success when first memorizing the last sentences of a story, and gradually building backwards to the beginning.

That way there wasn't the problem of making a strong start, only to peter out towards the end, having forgetten the rest of the story. Once you were able to get off to a good start, the rest was a breeze.

No idea why rats do it that way, though...
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