The role of hippocampal subregions in memory for stimulus associations

Behav Brain Res. 2010 Dec 31;215(2):275-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2010.07.006. Epub 2010 Jul 13.


The hippocampus is hypothesised to be critical for episodic memory in humans and episodic-like memory in animals. Human data regarding the roles of the various subregional networks within the hippocampus is difficult to obtain. In this article we examine the current rodent literature on episodic-like memory and associative recognition and review the roles of the hippocampal subregions in these behavioural tasks. We focus on the large amount of recent data reporting roles for CA3 and CA1 in allocentric spatial and temporal associative memory respectively. Our own recent data are then presented detailing critical roles for CA3 and CA1 in an associative recognition task which does not require allocentric spatial or temporal processing. These data support more generic roles for CA3 and CA1 in episodic-like memory, based on anatomical and theoretical literature on hippocampal function. We also present a novel analysis of our data in which we suggest that the encoding of object, place and context information is unaffected by lesions of the hippocampus and therefore infer that it may be the storage or retrieval phase of this associative memory which is critically dependent on hippocampal function. In conclusion however, more specific anatomically and temporally controlled methods are needed to fully define the role of hippocampal subregions in episodic-like memory.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains