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Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Feb;13(2):47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.11.004. Epub 2009 Jan 8.

Novelty signals: a window into hippocampal information processing.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, 12 Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK.


The function of the human hippocampus is a contentious subject among neuroscientists. Theoreticians have long viewed the hippocampus as a computational device, with researchers in humans increasingly adopting this perspective, buoyed by recent reports that its role is not limited to declarative memory. Here, we set out a new strategy for discovering the nature of information processing within the human hippocampus. We argue that novelty responses, measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging, provide a window into the neural representations and computations sustained by the hippocampus. More generally, we suggest that a renewed emphasis on the information processing qualities of the human hippocampus offers the promise of a long awaited union between theoretical and empirical research across species.

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