Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jan;14(1):115-20. doi: 10.1038/nn.2693. Epub 2010 Nov 21.

Hippocampal brain-network coordination during volitional exploratory behavior enhances learning.

Author information

Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA.


Exploratory behaviors during learning determine what is studied and when, helping to optimize subsequent memory performance. To elucidate the cognitive and neural determinants of exploratory behaviors, we manipulated the control that human subjects had over the position of a moving window through which they studied objects and their locations. Our behavioral, neuropsychological and neuroimaging data indicate that volitional control benefits memory performance and is linked to a brain network that is centered on the hippocampus. Increases in correlated activity between the hippocampus and other areas were associated with specific aspects of memory, which suggests that volitional control optimizes interactions among specialized neural systems through the hippocampus. Memory is therefore an active process that is intrinsically linked to behavior. Furthermore, brain structures that are typically seen as passive participants in memory encoding (for example, the hippocampus) are actually part of an active network that controls behavior dynamically as it unfolds.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication type, MeSH terms, Grant support

Publication type

MeSH terms

Grant support

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center