Behavioral functions of the CA3 subregion of the hippocampus

Learn Mem. 2007 Nov 14;14(11):771-81. doi: 10.1101/lm.688207. Print 2007 Nov.


From a behavioral perspective, the CA3a,b subregion of the hippocampus plays an important role in the encoding of new spatial information within short-term memory with a duration of seconds and minutes. This can easily be observed in tasks that require rapid encoding, novelty detection, one-trial short-term or working memory, and one-trial cued recall primarily for spatial information. These are tasks that have been assumed to reflect the operations of episodic memory and require interactions between CA3a,b and the dentate gyrus via mossy fiber inputs into the CA3a,b. The CA3a,b is also important for encoding of spatial information requiring multiple trials including the acquisition of arbitrary and relational associations. These tasks tend to be non-episodic and can be mediated by arbitrary and conjunctive operations. All these tasks are assumed to operate within an autoassociative network function of the CA3 region. The output from CA3a,b via the fimbria and the medial and lateral perforant path inputs play a supporting role in the neural circuit that supports the operation of these tasks. The CA3a,b also plays a role in sequential processing of information in cooperation with CA1 based on the Schaffer collateral output from CA3a,b to CA1. The CA3a,b also supports retrieval of short-term memory information based on a spatial pattern completion process. Finally, CA3c may, in cooperation with the dentate gyrus, serve an important role in processing the geometry of the environment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*