The hippocampus and visual perception

Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 Apr 17:6:91. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00091. eCollection 2012.


In this review, we will discuss the idea that the hippocampus may be involved in both memory and perception, contrary to theories that posit functional and neuroanatomical segregation of these processes. This suggestion is based on a number of recent neuropsychological and functional neuroimaging studies that have demonstrated that the hippocampus is involved in the visual discrimination of complex spatial scene stimuli. We argue that these findings cannot be explained by long-term memory or working memory processing or, in the case of patient findings, dysfunction beyond the medial temporal lobe (MTL). Instead, these studies point toward a role for the hippocampus in higher-order spatial perception. We suggest that the hippocampus processes complex conjunctions of spatial features, and that it may be more appropriate to consider the representations for which this structure is critical, rather than the cognitive processes that it mediates.

Keywords: amnesia; functional neuroimaging; hippocampus; medial temporal lobe; memory; neuropsychology; perception; perirhinal cortex.