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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008 Oct;32(8):1339-45. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 May 6.

How the brain remembers and forgets where things are: the neurocognition of object-location memory.

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  • 1Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Remembering where things are - object-location memory - is essential for daily-life functioning. Functionally, it can be decomposed into at least three distinct processing mechanisms: (a) object processing, (b) spatial-location processing and (c) object to location binding. A neurocognitive model is sketched, which posits a mostly bilateral ventral cortical network supporting object-identity memory, a left fronto-parietal circuit for categorical position processing and working memory aspects, and a right fronto-parietal circuit for coordinate position processing and working memory. Medial temporal lobes and in particular the hippocampus appear essential for object-location binding. It is speculated that categorical object-location binding and episodic memory binding in general depend more on the left-sided areas, whereas coordinate object-location processing and navigation in large scale space involve the right-sided counterparts. The various object-location memory components differ in the extent to which they are automatized or require central effort. While automatic routines protect against brain damage, neural deficits might potentially also lead to a shift upon the automatic-effortful continuum.

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