The hippocampal formation--orbitomedial prefrontal cortex circuit in the attentional control of active memory

Behav Brain Res. 2001 Dec 14;127(1-2):99-117. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(01)00355-2.


The long held view that the hippocampal formation is not only essential, but also solely responsible for declarative memory in humans (and by analogy non-human primates) has come into question. Based on extensive reciprocal connection patterns between the hippocampal formation and the orbitoventromedial prefrontal cortex in primates and rats, a central role for the hippocampal formation in the attentional control of behavior is emerging. In this paper, evidence is reviewed showing that the hippocampal-orbitomedial prefrontal cortex circuit may be involved in attentional monitoring of the internal sensorium. This attentional monitoring system, in a sense, is the working memory of viscero-emotional processing. The hippocampal formation can thus be viewed as a discrepancy detector with respect to the relative activational status of cognitive/emotional set in the orbitomedial prefrontal cortex. Discrepancies between the current representation of the internal milieu and the "just-prior" representation held "on-line" in orbitomedial prefrontal cortex associative working memory, are signaled from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex prospective attentional systems to activate, process, and reconcile internal (past) with external (present) environments, and finally to effectively alter active working emotional "sets" to exert cognitive-emotional control of behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Primates
  • Rats
  • Set, Psychology