Humans with hippocampus damage display severe spatial memory impairments in a virtual Morris water task

Behav Brain Res. 2002 Apr 15;132(1):77-84. doi: 10.1016/s0166-4328(01)00399-0.


For nonhumans, it has been shown that the hippocampus (HPC) is critical for spatial memory. We tested patients with unilateral HPC resections on a virtual analogue of a classic spatial task to assess HPC functioning in nonhumans: the Morris water task. We found that when humans are required to use spatial cues to navigate to a hidden escape platform in a pool, patients with HPC resections display severe impairments in spatial navigation relative to age-matched controls and age-matched patients who have had extra-HPC resections. This effect occurred for every patient tested and was evident regardless of side of surgery. Hence, it is apparent across species and irrespective of which hemisphere is damaged that the human HPC is critical for spatial/relational memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Escape Reaction / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Hippocampus / surgery
  • Humans
  • Maze Learning / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Microcomputers
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • User-Computer Interface*