The primate hippocampus: ontogeny, early insult and memory

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2005 Apr;15(2):168-74. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2005.03.015.


Recent evidence suggests that in primates, as in rodents, the hippocampus shows a developmental continuum that affects memory abilities from infancy to adulthood. In primates relatively few hippocampal-dependent abilities (e.g. some aspects of recognition memory) are present in early infancy, whereas others (e.g. relational memory) begin to show adult-like characteristics around 2 years of age in monkeys and 5-7 years in humans. Profound and persistent memory loss resulting from insult to the hippocampus in infancy becomes evident in everyday behavior only later in childhood. This pattern of results suggests a maturational gradient within the medial temporal lobe memory system, with most abilities crucially dependent upon the hippocampus emerging in later stages of development, supporting a model of hierarchical organization of memory within the medial temporal lobe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / growth & development
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Nerve Net / growth & development
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Primates / growth & development
  • Primates / physiology*
  • Time Factors