Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Preserved visual memory and relational cognition performance in monkeys with selective hippocampal lesions

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Science Advances  17 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 29, eaaz0484
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz0484


The theory that the hippocampus is critical for visual memory and relational cognition has been challenged by discovery of more spared hippocampal tissue than previously reported in H.M., previously unreported extra-hippocampal damage in developmental amnesiacs, and findings that the hippocampus is unnecessary for object-in-context memory in monkeys. These challenges highlight the need for causal tests of hippocampal function in nonhuman primate models. Here, we tested rhesus monkeys on a battery of cognitive tasks including transitive inference, temporal order memory, shape recall, source memory, and image recognition. Contrary to predictions, we observed no robust impairments in memory or relational cognition either within- or between-groups following hippocampal damage. These results caution against over-generalizing from human correlational studies or rodent experimental studies, compel a new generation of nonhuman primate studies, and indicate that we should reassess the relative contributions of the hippocampus proper compared to other regions in visual memory and relational cognition.

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