Hippocampal function and spatial memory: evidence from functional neuroimaging in healthy participants and performance of patients with medial temporal lobe resections

Neuropsychology. 2004 Jul;18(3):418-25. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.18.3.418.


Several strategies can be used to find a destination in the environment. Using a virtual environment, the authors identified 2 strategies dependent on 2 different memory systems. A spatial strategy involved the use of multiple landmarks available in the environment, and a response strategy involved right and left turns from a given start position. Although a probe trial provided an objective measure of the strategy used, classification that was based on verbal reports was used in small groups to avoid risks of misclassification. The authors first demonstrated that the spatial strategy led to a significant activity of the hippocampus, whereas the response strategy led to a sustained activity in the caudate nucleus. Then, the authors administered the task to 15 patients with lesions to the medial temporal lobe, showing an impaired ability using the spatial strategy. Imaging and neuropsychological results are discussed to shed light on the human navigation system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Temporal Lobectomy*
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiopathology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology*
  • Social Environment*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • User-Computer Interface