Shayna Rosenbaum, Psychology, York University
Title: Hippocampal Contributions to Spatial and Temporal Aspects of Episodic and Semantic Memory
Ebbinghaus Empire Series 2013-2014
Abstract: A topic of continued debate within cognitive neuroscience is the role played by the hippocampus and neighbouring regions within the medial temporal lobe in declarative memory. It has long been thought that the hippocampus is required for the encoding and temporary maintenance of new declarative (consciously accessible) memories. Other influential theories have viewed this structure as serving a more specialized role, but one that is concerned with representing allocentric spatial relations among objects contained within environments and/or episodic memories of personal experiences. The recent discovery of “time cells” in the hippocampus of animals, together with findings of hippocampal involvement in future imagining in humans, support the idea that the hippocampus is involved in structuring event details within a temporal framework. In this talk, I argue that the hippocampus plays an associative role in relating or recombining details that is not limited to representing time or space. I will provide evidence from patient studies that spatial and temporal information that are schematic in nature are not affected by hippocampal damage. Conversely, separate fMRI research involving birdwatchers who keep detailed journals of the place and time in which specific birds are encountered suggests that detailed spatial and temporal representations activate common regions within anterior and posterior hippocampus. These findings raise the possibility that the hippocampus is concerned with a more fundamental set of processes that integrate personal time with spatial context, perceptual details, and other elements that enable what is experienced by humans as recollection and prospection.
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