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The Hippocampus is the working memory of our brain and the switching point between short and long-term memory. It is one of the few areas in the brain where new nerve cells can be formed for a lifetime. Here you can read everything you need to know about the hippocampus: function, structure and important diseases and injuries!
What is the hippocampus?
The hippocampus is a brain region that belongs to the limbic cortex (limbic system). The name means “seahorse” because this region of the brain has a shape similar to that of the small sea creatures. It belongs to the allocortex, a developmentally very old part of the cerebral cortex.
The hippocampus is part of a larger structure of the brain called the parahippocampal gyrus (a turn of the cerebral cortex) at the base of the temporal lobe. It consists of several structures that together form the hippocampal formation:
- Ammon's horn (Cornu ammonis): hippocampus in the narrower sense; consists of four zones
- Dentate gyrus (serrated-looking turn of the cerebral cortex)
- Subiculum (transition area between the parahippocampal gyrus and Ammon's horn)
The fornix - an arched bundle of fibers - connects the hippocampus with the corpora mammilaria. These are two rounded elevations on the floor of the diencephalon. There are also connections with other brain regions, including the olfactory brain.
What is the function of the hippocampus?
The hippocampus is the interface between short and long-term memory. Via this switching point, the contents of the short-term memory are transferred to the long-term memory, depending on their importance, where they can be stored and called up again if necessary.
The hippocampus serves as a central part of the limbic system for controlling the affects; this is where the center of emotional expressions such as anger, fear and joy sit. Sexual behavior and many vegetative functions are also controlled in the limbic system. Through connections with other brain regions, the hippocampus and the tonsil nucleus (amygdala, also part of the limbic system) can evaluate signals emotionally.
Since the olfactory brain and hippocampus are in close proximity, smells and smells that are linked to memories and stored are also rated positively or negatively.
Where is the hippocampus located?
The hippocampus is a crescent-shaped, curved bulge on the floor of the lower horn of the lateral ventricles. It runs as a longitudinal bulge on the middle wall of the lower horn.
What problems can the hippocampus cause?
As a mediator between short and long-term memory, the hippocampus is a central switching point in the brain. If there is a disturbance in this area, no new information can be stored in the brain.
In the event of an accident with a concussion or an epileptic seizure, the memory content of events that took place seconds to hours before the event and has not yet been transferred to long-term memory in a stable manner is deleted - retrograde amnesia (memory gap related to the time before the accident) occurs. For the time after the accident - if you are unconscious for a few hours - there is anterograde amnesia (memory gap related to the time after the accident), which can last for two subsequent days.
Korsakov's disease caused by alcohol abuse and Alzheimer's dementia with its amnesias are the result of lesions in the limbic system. Here are the circuitry used by the Hippocampus lead to the cerebral cortex, interrupted.
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