Differentiating the roles of the hippocampal complex and the neocortex in long-term memory storage: evidence from the study of semantic dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Neuropsychology. 1997 Jan;11(1):77-89. doi: 10.1037//0894-4105.11.1.77.


Several computational models suggest that the hippocampal complex plays a key role in the establishment of new memories, but over time the storage of such memories becomes independent of this region. In support of such models, the authors demonstrate that patients with semantic dementia, who have relative sparing of the hippocampal complex, show a pattern of preserved recent memories and impaired distant memories. In a group study that used the Autobiographical Memory Interview, amnesic patients with Alzheimer's disease showed the more typical temporally graded loss (poor recall of recent memories), whereas patients with semantic dementia showed the reverse pattern. In a single-case study, using the Galton-Crovitz test, a patient with semantic dementia was significantly better at producing autobiographical memories from the most recent 5 years. By contrast, controls provided similarly detailed memories across all time periods back to childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Semantics
  • Time Factors