A comparison of egocentric and allocentric spatial memory in a patient with selective hippocampal damage

Neuropsychologia. 2000;38(4):410-25. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(99)00099-8.


The spatial memory of a single patient (YR) was investigated. This patient, who had relatively selective bilateral hippocampal damage, showed the pattern of impaired recall but preserved item recognition on standardised memory tests that has been suggested by Aggleton and Shaw [Aggleton JP, Shaw C. Amnesia and recognition memory: a reanalysis of psychometric data. Neuropsychologia 1996;34:51-62] to be a consequence of Papez circuit lesions. YR was tested on three recall tests and one recognition test for visuospatial information. The initial recall test assessed visuospatial memory over very short unfilled delays and YR was not significantly impaired. This test was then modified to test recall of allocentric and egocentric spatial information separately after filled delays of between 5 and 60 s. YR was found to be more impaired at recalling allocentric than egocentric information after a 60 s interval with a tendency for the impairment to increase up to this delay. Recognition of allocentric spatial information was also assessed after delays of 5 and 60 s. YR was impaired after the 60 s delay. The results suggest that the human hippocampus has a greater involvement in allocentric than egocentric spatial memory, and that this most likely concerns the consolidation of allocentric information into long-term memory rather than the initial encoding of allocentric spatial information. The findings also suggest that YR's item recognition/free recall deficit pattern reflects a problem retrieving or storing certain kinds of associative information.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Infarction / psychology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / injuries*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Space Perception / physiology*