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The Human Hippocampus and Viewpoint Dependence in Spatial Memory

By John A King, Neil Burgess, Tom Hartley, Faraneh Vargha-khadem, John O&apos, Dr John and A King


Virtual reality was used to sequentially present objects within a town square and to test recognition of object locations from the same viewpoint as presentation, or from a shifted viewpoint. A developmental amnesic case with focal bilateral hippocampal pathology showed a massive additional impairment when tested from the shifted viewpoint compared to a mild, list length-dependent, impairment when tested from the same viewpoint. While the same-view condition could be solved by visual pattern matching, the shifted-view condition requires a viewpoint independent representation or an equivalent mechanism for translating or rotating viewpoints in memory. The latter mechanism was indicated by control subjects' response latencies in the shifted-view condition, although the amnesic case is not impaired in tests of mental rotation of single objects. These results show that the human hippocampus supports viewpointindependence in spatial memory, and suggest that it does so by providing a mechanism for viewpoint manipulation in memory. In addition, they suggest an extremely sensitive test for human hippocampal damage, and hint at the nature of the hipppocampal role in episodic recollection

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Year: 2002
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