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Hippocampus. 2012 Jun;22(6):1313-24. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20968. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

Spatial deficits in an amnesic patient with hippocampal damage: questioning the multiple trace theory.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Psychologie et NeuroCognition, CNRS-UMR 5105, Université Pierre Mendès-France, Grenoble Cedex 09, France.


Mediotemporal lobe structures are involved in both spatial processing and long-term memory. Patient M.R. suffers from amnesia, due to bilateral hippocampal lesion and temporoparietal atrophy following carbon monoxide poisoning. We compared his performance in immediate spatial memory tasks with the performance of ten healthy matched participants. Using an immediate reproduction of path, we observed a dissociation between his performance in three allocentric tasks and in five egocentric-updating tasks. His performance was always impaired on tasks requiring the use of an egocentric-updating representation but remained preserved on allocentric tasks. These results fit with the hypothesis that the hippocampus plays a role in spatial memory, but they also suggest that allocentric deficits previously observed in amnesia might actually reflect deficits in egocentric-updating processes. Furthermore, the co-occurrence of deficits in episodic long-term memory and short-term egocentric-updating representation without any short-term allocentric deficit suggests a new link between the mnemonic and navigational roles of the hippocampus. The Cognitive Map theory, the Multiple Trace theory, as well as further models linking spatial and nonspatial functions of the hippocampus are discussed.

Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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