The Human Brain : From Neurone to Nervous System

THE HIPPOCAMPUS AND MEMORY


  1. The hippocampus is the cortical area concerned with formation and recall of memories. Memories can be divided into short-term and long term memories

  2. Bilateral hippocampal damage results in a failure to remember recent events, but long term memories are relatively unaffected. The hippocampus appears to be directly involved in short-term memory and the process of converting short term memories into long term memories.

  3. Short term cognitive memories are consolidated by repetition or rehearsal of a pattern of events. This pattern of inputs to neurones arises within different groups of synaptic inputs to pyramidal cells; changes in the power of each synaptic input increases with repetition.

  4. Long term potentiation (LTP) is believed to be the mechanism whereby new neural pathways are created, or older ones are strengthened.

  5. Emotionally-associated memories are frequently rehearsed during sleep and dreaming. The hippocampal involvement in emotional behaviour requires a rapid response to events, particularly unpleasant ones, and invokes short and long-term memory.

  6. Long term memories involve similar biochemical changes within synapses, but within extensive networks of neurones throughout the cortex, including the pre-frontal cortex, which some scientists regard as a memory buffer. A consequence of continued use of these pathways is that synaptic efficacy can be more permanently achieved because gene expression of proteins that maintain these active synapses. It may take weeks or months to establish long-term memories.

  7. Key Words: Hippocampus; Emotion, Pre-Frontal Cortex, Memory.

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