The hippocampus has been implicated in a diverse set of cognitive domains and paradigms, including cognitive mapping, long-term memory, and relational memory, at long or short study-test intervals. Despite the diversity of these areas, their association with the hippocampus may rely on an underlying commonality of relational memory processing shared among them. Most studies assess hippocampal memory within just one of these domains, making it difficult to know whether these paradigms all assess a similar underlying cognitive construct tied to the hippocampus. Here we directly tested the commonality among disparate tasks linked to the hippocampus by using PCA on performance from a battery of 12 cognitive tasks that included two traditional, long-delay neuropsychological tests of memory and two laboratory tests of relational memory (one of spatial and one of visual object associations) that imposed only short delays between study and test. Also included were different tests of memory, executive function, and processing speed. Structural MRI scans from a subset of participants were used to quantify the volume of the hippocampus and other subcortical regions. Results revealed that the 12 tasks clustered into four components; critically, the two neuropsychological tasks of long-term verbal memory and the two laboratory tests of relational memory loaded onto one component. Moreover, bilateral hippocampal volume was strongly tied to performance on this component. Taken together, these data emphasize the important contribution the hippocampus makes to relational memory processing across a broad range of tasks that span multiple domains.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience