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Brain Res Bull. 2002 Feb-Mar 1;57(3-4):499-503.

Spatial memory and hippocampal pallium through vertebrate evolution: insights from reptiles and teleost fish.

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Laboratorio de Psicobiología, Universidad de Sevilla, Campus Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Sevilla, Spain.


The forebrain of vertebrates shows great morphological variation and specialized adaptations. However, an increasing amount of neuroanatomical and functional data reveal that the evolution of the vertebrate forebrain could have been more conservative than previously realized. For example, the pallial region of the teleost telencephalon contains subdivisions presumably homologous with various pallial areas in amniotes, including possibly a homologue of the medial pallium or hippocampus. In mammals and birds, the hippocampus is critical for encoding complex spatial information to form map-like cognitive representations of the environment. Here, we present data showing that the pallial areas of reptiles and fish, previously proposed as homologous to the hippocampus of mammals and birds on an anatomical basis, are similarly involved in spatial memory and navigation by map-like or relational representations of the allocentric space. These data suggest that early in vertebrate evolution, the medial pallium of an ancestral fish group that gave rise to the extant vertebrates became specialized for processing and encoding complex spatial information, and that this functional trait has been retained through the evolution of each independent vertebrate lineage.

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