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The Contrasting Roles of the Hippocampus & Amygdala in Memory

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The hippocampus and amygdala are both members of the medial temporal lobe memory system but represent and store information about very different aspects of the environment and do so in very different ways. The rodent hippocampal formation constructs a spatial representation of the local environment which can be used to identify the animal’s current location, to remember events that happened there in the past, and to navigate to desirable locations in that environment. Spatial cells found in the hippocampal formation represent the animal’s location (place cells), its current heading direction (head direction cells), the metric of the environment (grid cells), and the animal’ s distance from boundaries of the environment (boundary vector cells). In contrast, the rodent amygdala represents events of ethological salience and generates an active memory trace of their recent occurrence. I will report unpublished results describing selective cellular responses to conspecifics, foods, and a familiar environment. At the end of my talk, I will suggest ways in which these anatomically-connected temporal lobe memory systems might interact.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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