The hippocampus replays experiences during quiet rest periods, and this replay benefits subsequent memory. A critical open question is how memories are prioritized for this replay. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) pattern analysis to track item-level replay in the hippocampus during an awake rest period after participants studied 15 objects and completed a memory test. Objects that were remembered less well were replayed more during the subsequent rest period, suggesting a prioritization process in which weaker memories—memories most vulnerable to forgetting—are selected for replay. In a second session 12 hours later, more replay of an object during a rest period predicted better subsequent memory for that object. Replay predicted memory improvement across sessions only for participants who slept during that interval. Our results provide evidence that replay in the human hippocampus prioritizes weakly learned information, predicts subsequent memory performance, and relates to memory improvement across a delay with sleep.
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