Psychology & Psychiatry

Scientists find gender-distinct circuit for depression

Depression affects women nearly twice as much as men, but unraveling the brain's blueprint that regulates this behavior, let alone identifying specific molecular differences between sexes, has proven difficult.

Neuroscience

Negative memory storage affects depression symptoms

Physical manifestations of negative memories in the hippocampus could underlie cognitive symptoms of depression, according to research in mice published in JNeurosci. Inhibiting these manifestations could be a future treatment ...

Neuroscience

Sleep readies synapses for learning

Synapses in the hippocampus are larger and stronger after sleep deprivation, according to new research in mice published in JNeurosci. Overall, this study supports the idea that sleep may universally weaken synapses that ...

Genetics

Schizophrenia: Adolescence is the game-changer

Schizophrenia causes hallucinations and memory or cognition problems inter alia. This psychiatric illness affects 0.5 percent of the general population, and it may be related to genetic abnormalities of chromosome 22, known ...

Neuroscience

Blocking protein curbs memory loss in old mice

Impeding VCAM1, a protein that tethers circulating immune cells to blood vessel walls, enabled old mice to perform as well on memory and learning tests as young mice, a Stanford study found.

Neuroscience

How the olfactory system affects memory

How sensory perception in the brain affects learning and memory processes is far from fully understood. Two neuroscientists at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have discovered a new aspect of how the processing of odours impacts ...

Neuroscience

Sleep frees up the hippocampus for new memories

Two regions of our brain are central for storing memories: the hippocampus and the neocortex. While the hippocampus is primarily responsible for learning new information and its short-term storage, the neocortex is able to ...

Neuroscience

Helping the young mind grow

(HealthDay)—Whether you call it snowplow, bulldozer or helicopter parenting, these child-rearing styles have gotten a lot of attention recently, and the acknowledgment that they may not be the best way to raise a confident, ...

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Hippocampus

The hippocampus is a major component of the brains of humans and other mammals. It belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in long-term memory and spatial navigation. Like the cerebral cortex, with which it is closely associated, it is a paired structure, with mirror-image halves in the left and right sides of the brain. In humans and other primates, the hippocampus is located inside the medial temporal lobe, beneath the cortical surface. Its curved shape reminded early anatomists of the horns of a ram (Cornu Ammonis), or a seahorse. The name, in fact, was taken by the sixteenth century anatomist Julius Caesar Aranzi from the Greek word for seahorse (Greek: ιππος, hippos = horse, καμπος, kampos = sea monster).

In Alzheimer's disease the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage; memory problems and disorientation appear among the first symptoms. Damage to the hippocampus can also result from oxygen starvation (hypoxia), encephalitis, or medial temporal lobe epilepsy. People with extensive hippocampal damage may experience amnesia—the inability to form or retain new memories.

In rodents, the hippocampus has been studied extensively as part of the brain system responsible for spatial memory and navigation. Many neurons in the rat and mouse hippocampus respond as place cells: that is, they fire bursts of action potentials when the animal passes through a specific part of its environment. Hippocampal place cells interact extensively with head direction cells, whose activity acts as an inertial compass, and with grid cells in the neighboring entorhinal cortex.

Because of its densely packed layers of neurons, the hippocampus has frequently been used as a model system for studying neurophysiology. The form of neural plasticity known as long-term potentiation (LTP) was first discovered to occur in the hippocampus and has often been studied in this structure. LTP is widely believed to be one of the main neural mechanisms by which memory is stored in the brain.

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