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How Has Animal Research Helped To Identify Brain Regions Involved In Memory?

860 words - 4 pages

Information about which structures and connections in the brain that are important for memory has come from studies of amnesiac patients and from systematic experimental work with animals. Work in animals includes studies which assess the effects of selective brain lesions on memory, as well as studies using neurophysiological recording and stimulating techniques to investigate neural activity within particular brain regions.
An important development that has occurred in the area of memory during the past two decades was the establishment of an animal model of human amnesia in the monkey (Mahut and Moss 1984; Mishkin 1982; Squire and Zola-Morgan 1983). Prior to this and the cause of the ...view middle of the document...

This achievement set the stage for additional work in monkeys and for work in rodents that has identified structures in the medial temporal lobe that are important for declarative memory. These structures include the hippocampal region and adjacent cortical areas that are anatomically related to the hippocampal region, namely, the entorhinal, perirhinal, and parahippocampal cortices (Zola-Morgan and Squire 1993).
Findings from work in animals, including the development of an animal model of alcoholic Korsakoff's syndrome in the rat (Mair et al., 1992), have been consistent with the anatomical findings from human amnesia in showing the importance of damage within the medial thalamus, especially damage in the internal medullary lamina, for producing memory loss.
It was originally supposed that damage to the AMYGDALA directly contributed to the memory impairment associated with large medial temporal lobe lesions (Murray and Mishkin 1984). Subsequent work showed that monkeys with virtually complete lesions of the amygdala performed as well as normal monkeys on four different memory tasks, including delayed non matching-to-sample task (Zola- Morgan et al. 1989). Other experiments with rats and monkeys suggest that the amygdala is important for the development of conditioned fear and other forms of affective memory. These and other findings focused attention away from the amygdala toward the cortical structures of the medial temporal lobe, that is, the perirhinal, entorhinal, and parahippocampal cortices, in addition to the hippocampal region itself.
Direct evidence for the importance of the cortical regions has come from studies in which circumscribed damage has been done to the perirhinal, entorhinal, or parahippocampal cortices, either separately or in combination (Moss, Mahut, and Zola-Morgan 1981; Suzuki et al. 1993). For...

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