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Neuroreport. 2000 Jul 14;11(10):2203-7.

Object and spatial alternation tasks with minimal delays activate the right anterior hippocampus proper in humans.

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Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Psychiatry Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55417, USA.


Substantial evidence indicates that the hippocampus plays a critical role in long-term declarative memory. In contrast, the role of the human hippocampus in working memory, particularly when information needs to be maintained only for a few seconds, remains controversial. Using PET, we show robust activation of the right anterior hippocampus proper during the performance of both object and spatial alternation tasks. Hippocampal activation emerged even though subjects only had to remember a single, simple stimulus over a minimum delay of 1 s. No hippocampal activation occurred when the delay was increased to 5 s. This suggests that the role of the hippocampus in working memory is not to maintain information across a delay interval. Instead, its activity reflects a more transient function during encoding and/or retrieval. These data are among the first observations to demonstrate human hippocampal involvement in working memory.

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