Lateralized hippocampal oscillations underlie distinct aspects of human spatial memory and navigation

Nat Commun. 2018 Jun 21;9(1):2423. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04847-9.


The hippocampus plays a vital role in various aspects of cognition including both memory and spatial navigation. To understand electrophysiologically how the hippocampus supports these processes, we recorded intracranial electroencephalographic activity from 46 neurosurgical patients as they performed a spatial memory task. We measure signals from multiple brain regions, including both left and right hippocampi, and we use spectral analysis to identify oscillatory patterns related to memory encoding and navigation. We show that in the left but not right hippocampus, the amplitude of oscillations in the 1-3-Hz "low theta" band increases when viewing subsequently remembered object-location pairs. In contrast, in the right but not left hippocampus, low-theta activity increases during periods of navigation. The frequencies of these hippocampal signals are slower than task-related signals in the neocortex. These results suggest that the human brain includes multiple lateralized oscillatory networks that support different aspects of cognition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Spatial Memory / physiology*
  • Spatial Navigation / physiology*