Elife. 2022 Nov 1;11:e79027. doi: 10.7554/eLife.79027.
The brain encodes the statistical regularities of the environment in a task-specific yet flexible and generalizable format. Here, we seek to understand this process by bridging two parallel lines of research, one centered on sensorimotor timing, and the other on cognitive mapping in the hippocampal system. By combining functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with a fast-paced time-to-contact (TTC) estimation task, we found that the hippocampus signaled behavioral feedback received in each trial as well as performance improvements across trials along with reward-processing regions. Critically, it signaled performance improvements independent from the tested intervals, and its activity accounted for the trial-wise regression-to-the-mean biases in TTC estimation. This is in line with the idea that the hippocampus supports the rapid encoding of temporal context even on short time scales in a behavior-dependent manner. Our results emphasize the central role of the hippocampus in statistical learning and position it at the core of a brain-wide network updating sensorimotor representations in real time for flexible behavior.