Description: We talk about how the hippocampus is involved in processing memories but when some researchers looked specifically at how we process information about when an event occurred and where that same event occurred it turns out that information is processed earlier and fed separately into the hippocampus.
Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “How the brain encodes time and place: Neuroscientists identify a brain circuit that is critical for forming episodic memories.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150923134112.htm>.
Date: September 23, 2015
Links: Article Links — www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150923134112.htm
In the research described within this article MIT researchers Chen Sun and Takashi Kitamura report findings that show that the previous belief that information about the physical location or context of events at the time at which they occur are separated within the hippocampus are not correct. Specifically their data indicates that that location and temporal information are actually fed separately to the hippocampus indicating that these features of memories have been processed earlier in the memory processing flow. They found that an area known as the entorhinal cortex contains two types of cells that they refer to as island cells and ocean cells. Their research indicates that island cells seem to be involved in processing timing information while ocean cells seem to play a role in locating where events have occurred.
Questions for Discussion:
- If we think of memories simply as recorded information describing the entirety of events that happened in our past, what does this research suggest about ways in which we need to change that understanding if we want to understand precisely how our brain creates and stores memories?
- Given the results of this research what would be the most appropriate way to describe the role of the hippocampus in the processing of memory?
- How does this research relate to the distinction between episodic and semantic memory that is often talk about as a basic difference in the structure human memories?
References (Read Further):
Takashi Kitamura, Chen Sun, Jared Martin, Lacey J. Kitch, Mark J. Schnitzer, Susumu Tonegawa. Entorhinal Cortical Ocean Cells Encode Specific Contexts and Drive Context-Specific Fear Memory. Neuron, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.08.036