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Human memory: insights into hippocampal networks in epilepsy

Thorsten Bartsch, Shahar Arzy
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu125 1856-1857 First published online: 15 May 2014

This scientific commentary refers to ‘Differential influence of hippocampal subfields to memory formation: insights from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy', by Coras et al., (doi.10.1093/brain/awu100).

Memory is one of the core cognitive abilities that shapes our sense of self-identity and we strive to maintain and improve our memory function throughout our lives. Memory impairments are a key component of a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases, and represent a large part of the disease burden in many patients. The hippocampus has been central to the study of human memory, having been implicated in episodic and long-term memory, novelty detection, sleep-dependent memory consolidation, the ability to imagine the future, as well as spatial navigation and the binding of temporally and spatially distributed representations (Bartsch, 2012). What’s more, the hippocampus is also involved in neurobiological mechanisms beyond memory formation such as the regulation of emotion, fear, anxiety, and stress. Notably, the hippocampus displays a particular vulnerability to hypoxic, ischaemic, or neurotoxic insults, and is thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of various neurological and psychiatric diseases including epilepsy and neurodegeneration, as well as ageing. In this issue of Brain, Coras et al. use the memory performance of patients undergoing surgery for the treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy to obtain new insights into the anatomical basis of memory formation (Coras et al., 2014).

The hippocampus has an intriguing anatomy, although …

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