The Hippocampus

The hippocampus is important for encoding and storing our memories. It is especially  critical for episodic memory, which is the ability to recall and mentally re-experience specific events from our past. The hippocampus also plays a major role in learning, spatial navigation, and emotional behavior. Here is a breakdown of different functions of the hippocampus:  

Function  Description  Example 
Memory and Learning  Learned information is consolidated from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.  Learning your address for the first time and remembering it throughout your lifetime 
Spatial Navigation  The hippocampus forms a “cognitive map,” or mental representation, of information on locations within a specific environment.  Being able to navigate around your home with no difficulty due to knowing the layout of your house 
Emotional Behavior  The hippocampus forms and reconstructs relational memory (remembering associations between objects and events) that is associated with flexible thinking and social behavior. It also has reciprocal connections to the amygdala, which is the center of emotional regulation.  Appropriately responding to novel and familiar guests to host a successful dinner party 


Damage to the hippocampus can result in: 

  • Memory loss (amnesia) 
  • Impaired episodic memory 
  • Inability to form new, long-term memories 
  • Inflexible thinking and behavior 

There are general strategies that an individual with an impaired hippocampus can utilize. These include: 

  • Using a planner or calendar 
  • Using effective electronic apps, i.e., reminder calls/alarms 
  • Playing memory games to improve memory 
  • Journaling or keeping a diary 



Kalat, J. W. (2017). Biological Psychology. Cengage. 

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