Spatial separation of visual and vestibular processing in the human hippocampal formation

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Sep:1233:177-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06115.x.


The hippocampal formation, that is, the hippocampus proper and the parahippocampal region, is essential for various aspects of memory and plays an important role in human navigation. Navigational cues can be provided by both the visual system (e.g., landmarks, optic flow) and the vestibular system (e.g., estimation of direction during path integration). This study reviews anatomical, electrophysiological, and imaging data that support the view that vestibular input is primarily processed in the anterior part of the hippocampal formation, whereas visual cues are primarily integrated in the posterior part. In cases of reduced vestibular or visual input or excessive sensory stimulation, this hippocampal navigational network is reorganized. The separation of vestibular and visual information in the hippocampal formation has a twofold functional consequence: missing input from either system may be partially substituted for, and the task-dependent sensorial weight can be shifted to, the more reliable modality for navigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Memory / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*