Making new memories: The role of the hippocampus in new associative learning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Both aging and Alzheimer's disease target the hippocampal formation and can result in mild to devastating memory impairment depending on the severity of the condition. Understanding the normal mnemonic functions of the hippocampus and related structures of the medial temporal lobe is the first step toward the development of diagnostics and treatments designed to ameliorate these potentially devastating age-related memory deficits. Here I describe findings from behavioral neurophysiological studies in which we have investigated the patterns of dynamic neural activity seen in the macaque monkey hippocampus during the acquisition of new associative memories. We report that hippocampal neurons signal the formation of newassociations with dramatic changes in their firing rate. Because these learning-related signals can occur just before behavioral learning is expressed, this suggests that these signals play a role in driving the learning process. Implications of these findings for understanding the memory deficits associated with aging and Alzheimer's disease are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationImaging and the Aging Brain
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)1573316598, 9781573316590
StatePublished - Feb 2007

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632


  • Changing cells
  • Macaque monkey
  • Medial temporal lobe
  • Relational memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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