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, ...

Neuroscience

Quick thinking? It's all down to timing

Remember hearing people being called slow learners by teachers and parents? That oft-used description of someone who takes a wee bit longer to process information, now has a scientific basis for its existence. Scientists ...

Neuroscience

Evidence found of neurogenesis in people up to age 87

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain has found evidence of neurogenesis in the brains of people right up to old age. In their paper published in the journal Nature Medicine, the group describes ...

Neuroscience

Primed for memory formation

A new study carried out in a collaboration between researchers from LMU and UC San Diego suggests that new sensory experiences are encoded in pre-existing patterns of neuronal activity, which are recalled, modulated and enhanced ...

Neuroscience

Memories of movement are replayed randomly during sleep

Sleep is far from an inactive time for the brain: while rats (and humans) are asleep, neurons in the hippocampus fire rapidly. After a rat has repeatedly moved from one spot to another, the same neurons that fired while the ...

Neuroscience

So close, rats can almost taste it

A subset of neurons in the hippocampus respond to both place and taste, according to research in male rats published in JNeurosci. The study shows how animals may remember and find their way back to locations where they previously ...

Neuroscience

MRI scans reveal how brain protects memories

Two distinct parts of the human brain—the neocortex and the hippocampus (a part of the brain involved in higher-order brain functions) - have been shown to help protect our memories from interfering with one another.

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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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