Hippocampus Definition Psychology
The hippocampus is a part of your brain, specifically a part of the limbic system that is vital for the formation of memories. Without the hippocampus, you would not be able to remember anything that you are reading hear or anywhere else.
Why is the hippocampus called that?
The name hippocampus is derived from the Greek hippokampus (hippos, meaning “horse,” and kampos, meaning “sea monster”), since the structure’s shape resembles that of a sea horse. The hippocampus, which is located in the inner (medial) region of the temporal lobe, forms part of the limbic system, which is particularly important in regulating emotional responses.
What is the hippocampus part of the brain responsible for?
The anatomy of the hippocampus is of chief importance to its function. The hippocampus receives input from and sends output to the rest of the brain via a structure known as the entorhinal cortex, which is located beneath the anterior (frontal) region of the hippocampus. The hippocampal formation itself is composed of several subregions, which include the cornu ammonis (CA1–4), the dentate gyrus, and the subiculum.
The major hippocampus function include:
The two most-influential theories for hippocampal function are related to space and memory. Some theories of hippocampal function treat the hippocampus as an index (much like an index at the end of a book) that binds together elements of an experience but does not store the experience itself.
Experts generally agree that the hippocampus plays a role in the formation of new memories and in the detection of new surroundings, occurrences and stimuli. Some also believe the organ is involved in declarative memory; that is memories that can be stated verbally such as facts and figures.
However, studies have shown that damage to the hippocampus does not affect a person’s ability to learn a new skill such as playing a musical instrument or solving certain types of puzzles which suggests that the memories involved in learning a procedure are governed by brain areas other than the hippocampus.
What happens if hippocampus is damaged?
Damage to the hippocampus can lead to loss of memory and difficulty in establishing new memories.
- In Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to be affected, leading to the confusion and loss of memory so commonly seen in the early stages of the disease. The hippocampus undergoes massive cell loss, which is associated with memory deficits that manifest in early stages of the disease.
- Stress and depression are associated with a loss of ability to generate new cells in the dentate gyrus, as well as a loss of dendritic spines and reduced dendritic branching throughout the hippocampus.
- Schizophrenia : Hippocampal dysfunction is also implicated in schizophrenia and associated disorders, suggesting that that region of the brain is particularly vulnerable to neuropsychiatric disease.
- Individuals who survive a hypoxic episode (temporary deprivation of oxygen in the brain) often sustain hippocampal damage and anterograde amnesia.
- Epileptic : the hippocampus often is the focus of epileptic seizures, which can lead to hippocampal sclerosis (a pathological loss of hippocampal cells).