Cognitive systems associated with the hippocampus of the human brain and their role in behaviour and neurodegenerative disease

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  • Richard Armstrong

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Cognitive systems research involves the synthesis of ideas from natural and artificial systems in the analysis, understanding, and design of all intelligent systems. This chapter discusses the cognitive systems associated with the hippocampus (HC) of the human brain and their possible role in behaviour and neurodegenerative disease. The hippocampus (HC) is concerned with the analysis of highly abstract data derived from all sensory systems but its specific role remains controversial. Hence, there have been three major theories concerning its function, viz., the memory theory, the spatial theory, and the behavioral inhibition theory. The memory theory has its origin in the surgical destruction of the HC, which results in severe anterograde and partial retrograde amnesia. The spatial theory has its origin in the observation that neurons in the HC of animals show activity related to their location within the environment. By contrast, the behavioral inhibition theory suggests that the HC acts as a ‘comparator’, i.e., it compares current sensory events with expected or predicted events. If a set of expectations continues to be verified then no alteration of behavior occurs. If, however, a ‘mismatch’ is detected then the HC intervenes by initiating appropriate action by active inhibition of current motor programs and initiation of new data gathering. Understanding the cognitive systems of the hippocampus in humans may aid in the design of intelligent systems involved in spatial mapping, memory, and decision making. In addition, this information may lead to a greater understanding of the course of clinical dementia in the various neurodegenerative diseases in which there is significant damage to the HC.


Publication date31 Dec 2014
Publication titleNew developments in cognitive systems research
EditorsEmily P. Rosenfield
Place of PublicationHappauge, NY
PublisherNova science
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-63117-189-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-63117-188-8
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NamePsychology research progress


  • hippocampus, septal-hippocampal system, behavioural inhibition theory, comparator, behaviour, neurodegenerative disease

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