The role of the parahippocampal cortex in cognition

Trends Cogn Sci. 2013 Aug;17(8):379-90. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2013.06.009. Epub 2013 Jul 10.


The parahippocampal cortex (PHC) has been associated with many cognitive processes, including visuospatial processing and episodic memory. To characterize the role of PHC in cognition, a framework is required that unifies these disparate processes. An overarching account was proposed whereby the PHC is part of a network of brain regions that processes contextual associations. Contextual associations are the principal element underlying many higher-level cognitive processes, and thus are suitable for unifying the PHC literature. Recent findings are reviewed that provide support for the contextual associations account of PHC function. In addition to reconciling a vast breadth of literature, the synthesis presented expands the implications of the proposed account and gives rise to new and general questions about context and cognition.

Keywords: associations; contextual processing; episodic memory; parahippocampal cortex; scenes; spatial processing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus / physiology*