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Working memory and the hippocampus

by Alan Baddeley, Christopher Jarrold, Faraneh Vargha-Khadem
()

Abstract

A number of studies suggest an important role for the hippocampus in tasks involving visuospatial or relational working memory. We test the generality of this proposal across tasks using a battery designed to investigate the various components of working memory, studying the working memory performance of Jon, who shows a bilateral reduction in hippocampal volume of approximately 50%, comparing him to a group of 48 college students. We measure performance on four complex working memory span measures based on combining visuospatial and verbal storage with visuospatial or verbal concurrent processing as well as measuring Jon's ability to carry out the component storage and processing aspects of these tasks. Jon performed at a consistently high level across our range of tasks. Possible reasons for the apparent disparity between our own findings and earlier studies showing a hippocampal deficit are discussed in terms of both the potential differences in the demands placed on relational memory and of the proposed distinction between egocentric and allocentric visuospatial processing.

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