Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A New Look At How Memory And Spatial Cognition Are Related

Date:
August 7, 2008
Source:
University of California - San Diego
Summary:
In a study that sheds new light on how memory and spatial cognition are related to each other in the brain, researchers studied memory-impaired patients as they navigated their environment.

In a study that sheds new light on how memory and spatial cognition are related to each other in the brain, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Veteran Affairs (VA) San Diego Healthcare System studied memory-impaired patients as they navigated their environment.

Path integration, or the ability of the brain to compute the distance and direction of a traveled path, is an important aspect of spatial cognition – an ability long-thought to be dependent on the medial temporal lobe structures of the brain.

However, the researchers discovered that the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex – two major medial temporal lobe structures – are not essential for path integration. Their findings will be published in the early on line edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) the week of August 4.

The study, led by Larry R. Squire, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, neurosciences and psychology at UCSD School of Medicine and research career scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, was designed to measure whether these structures of the brain are essential for spatial cognition.

"For decades, the medial temporal lobe structures have been linked to both memory and spatial cognition," said Squire. One important aspect of spatial cognition is keeping track of a reference location during movement by using internal cues, Squire explained, yet such tracking also relies on memory. "So we set out to test how these two abilities related to one another and to the temporal lobe area of the brain."

The researchers looked at five memory-impaired patients with lesions of the medial temporal lobe along with seven matched controls, testing each for their path integration ability. Participants, who were blindfolded and wore noise-canceling earphones, were led by researchers on 16 paths and asked to keep their starting point in mind. After walking the path, participants were asked to point to their start location.

Due to their lesions, the five patients all had long-term memory impairment, so the paths were short enough that the task could be performed within the span of their working, or short-term, memory. Building on the idea that working memory is independent of the medial temporal lobe, the researchers theorized that these patients should succeed at the task if performed within the span of their short-term memory, unless this section of the brain was also necessary for spatial cognition.

The memory-impaired patients pointed to and estimated their distance from the start location as accurately as the controls.

"We concluded that the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex are not essential for path integration, since we showed that the tests could be successfully accomplished despite damage to these brain regions," said Squire.

Co-authors Yael Shrager, UCSD Department of Neurosciences, and C. Brock Kirwan, UCSD Department of Psychiatry, also contributed to this study, which was supported by the Medical Research Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Metropolitan Life Foundation and a National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - San Diego. "A New Look At How Memory And Spatial Cognition Are Related." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080804190633.htm>.
University of California - San Diego. (2008, August 7). A New Look At How Memory And Spatial Cognition Are Related. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080804190633.htm
University of California - San Diego. "A New Look At How Memory And Spatial Cognition Are Related." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080804190633.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins