Spatial memory deficits in patients with unilateral damage to the right hippocampal formation

Neuropsychologia. 1997 Jan;35(1):11-24. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(96)00051-6.


Patients with unilateral temporal lobe damage resulting from intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE, n = 30) or from temporal lobe resection (temporal lobectomy, TLR, n = 47) were investigated on the Nine-box Maze. The task, analogous to the radial arm maze, was designed to compare spatial mapping and working memory theories of the functions of the hippocampus. The task provides measures of spatial, object, working and reference memory, incorporated into a within subjects design. The spatial component was designed to encourage the formation of allocentric rather than egocentric spatial representations. Spatial memory deficits were found (across working and reference memory components) in both TLE and TLR patients with right temporal lobe damage, with intact spatial memory in patients with corresponding left temporal lobe damage. Performance on the matched non-spatial (object) working memory component was equal to healthy controls for all groups. However all patient groups showed a deficit on object reference memory. These findings are discussed in relation to the underlying temporal lobe pathology and particularly atrophy of the hippocampal formation. Overall, the results support the cognitive mapping theory of hippocampal function, with the demonstration of a selective (and probably allocentric) spatial memory deficit in patients with right hippocampal damage.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / surgery
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / surgery