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Hippocampal Volume Reduction in Humans Predicts Impaired Allocentric Spatial Memory in Virtual-Reality Navigation

Guderian, S; Dzieciol, AM; Gadian, DG; Jentschke, S; Doeller, CF; Burgess, N; Mishkin, M; (2015) Hippocampal Volume Reduction in Humans Predicts Impaired Allocentric Spatial Memory in Virtual-Reality Navigation. Journal of Neuroscience , 35 (42) pp. 14123-14131. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0801-15.2015. Green open access

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Abstract

UNLABELLED: The extent to which navigational spatial memory depends on hippocampal integrity in humans is not well documented. We investigated allocentric spatial recall using a virtual environment in a group of patients with severe hippocampal damage (SHD), a group of patients with "moderate" hippocampal damage (MHD), and a normal control group. Through four learning blocks with feedback, participants learned the target locations of four different objects in a circular arena. Distal cues were present throughout the experiment to provide orientation. A circular boundary as well as an intra-arena landmark provided spatial reference frames. During a subsequent test phase, recall of all four objects was tested with only the boundary or the landmark being present. Patients with SHD were impaired in both phases of this task. Across groups, performance on both types of spatial recall was highly correlated with memory quotient (MQ), but not with intelligence quotient (IQ), age, or sex. However, both measures of spatial recall separated experimental groups beyond what would be expected based on MQ, a widely used measure of general memory function. Boundary-based and landmark-based spatial recall were both strongly related to bilateral hippocampal volumes, but not to volumes of the thalamus, putamen, pallidum, nucleus accumbens, or caudate nucleus. The results show that boundary-based and landmark-based allocentric spatial recall are similarly impaired in patients with SHD, that both types of recall are impaired beyond that predicted by MQ, and that recall deficits are best explained by a reduction in bilateral hippocampal volumes. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: In humans, bilateral hippocampal atrophy can lead to profound impairments in episodic memory. Across species, perhaps the most well-established contribution of the hippocampus to memory is not to episodic memory generally but to allocentric spatial memory. However, the extent to which navigational spatial memory depends on hippocampal integrity in humans is not well documented. We investigated spatial recall using a virtual environment in two groups of patients with hippocampal damage (moderate/severe) and a normal control group. The results showed that patients with severe hippocampal damage are impaired in learning and recalling allocentric spatial information. Furthermore, hippocampal volume reduction impaired allocentric navigation beyond what can be predicted by memory quotient as a widely used measure of general memory function.

Type: Article
Title: Hippocampal Volume Reduction in Humans Predicts Impaired Allocentric Spatial Memory in Virtual-Reality Navigation
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0801-15.2015
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0801-15.2015
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2015 Guderian et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Keywords: amnesia, human, memory, navigation, spatial, virtual reality
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Developmental Neurosciences Dept
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473309
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