Sweet Memories: Do you recall what you had for dessert at your last dinner party?

Sweet Memories: Do you recall what you had for dessert at your last dinner party? I’m sure you would remember the hippocampus cookies (left image)! The hippocampus (right image) is the part of our brain responsible for episodic memory, the kind associated with a great dinner surrounded by family or friends. It enables you to “play back” the memories, until eventually the memory becomes ingrained in the cortex.

• The hippocampus is also important for spatial memory: in one study, British researchers asked taxi drivers to imagine their routes through London while their brain activity was scanned by positron emission tomography (PET scan). This task specifically activated the right lobe of the hippocampus. There are other types of memory that do not involve the hippocampus: semantic memory, for general knowledge (frontal and temporal cortex), emotional memory such as fear (amygdala), and procedural memory, such as knowing how to ride a bike (cerebellum, motor cortex).

• In Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus is the first, and most severely, affected part of the brain. That’s why new memories are the first to go: Where did I put the car keysWhy is there no mail today (because you just brought it in).

• The distinct curves of the hippocampus region of the vertebrate brain has been likened to a sea horse (genus Hippocampus) from Greek mythology, and the horns of the ram Amun, in Egyptian mythology. The latter name is the basis for four regions, designated CA1-4, after Cornu Ammonis or the horns of Amun.

Remember to tag your posts #scienceeveryday when it’s not ScienceSunday 🙂

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12 Responses to Sweet Memories: Do you recall what you had for dessert at your last dinner party?

  1. U-Ming Lee says:

    I am reminded of an old, but pretty bad, joke.

    Doctor: “Bad news. I’m afraid you’ve been diagnosed with both Alzheimer’s and cancer.”

    Patient: “No, that’s good news!”

    Doctor: “Why?”

    Patient: “At least I haven’t got Alzheimer’s!”

  2. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL! Funny and sad, U-Ming Lee .

  3. Rajini Rao says:

    Very true..the little feeling of guilt only makes it better 😉

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Mark Bruce , wow, that was some dessert. Sure you’re not a food writer? 😉

    The hippocampus can be damaged by non-physical means. For example, it is vulnerable to overstimulation  by corticosteroids secreted by the adrenal glands, because it carries receptors for these hormones. Stress can result in overproduction of corticosteroids and damage the hippocampus. In Alzheimer’s, plaques and tangles of proteins are initially deposited in this region, killing off the nearby cells.

  5. I love to sing that song.  Annie Lennox has a great voice.

  6. Chad Haney says:

    I think I mentioned in one of Gnotic Pasta posts that I work with biohazards at times but so far the only biohazard that scares me are prions. We don’t know enough about them and there’s no cure. So why am I bringing them up, because they affect the hippocampus the least. Interesting, no?


  7. Rajini Rao says:

    Ugh, creepy scrapie deposits in the hippocampus! Did not know that, Chad Haney . Now I need something sweet to get rid of that memory 🙂

  8. Rajini Rao says:

    Guns N’ Roses were using their hippocampi: “She’s got a smile it seems to me, Reminds me of childhood memories

    Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky

    Now and then when I see her face

    She takes me away to that special place.”

    Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine

  9. Very informative post.

    (Look like we’ve to care of our RAM.)

  10. Rajini Rao says:

    Hmmm, Patrick Armstrong , I suppose hippocampal spatial memory could have helped find Jessie’s girl. 

    Great pun, Jitendra Mulay ! 

  11. mahek abbas says:

    in which part of brain is it situated..(mid brain or hind brain)??

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