Lead


Lay summary
The hippocampal formation is comprised of a group of brain regions located in the medial temporal lobe. Damage to these structures causes a profound loss of memory for events (such as the memories of your wedding or your 20th birthday) and facts about the world (such as the name of the capital of France or the color of the Swiss flag), without other sensory, motor or cognitive impairments. Over the last 30 years, the work of many laboratories worldwide has clarified the basic functional organization of the adult primate hippocampal formation. These fundamental neuroanatomical studies carried out in the monkey have served as the foundation for our understanding of human memory function, and have been essential to our current understanding of the pathology of neuropsychiatric disorders including amnesia, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy.The next frontier facing neuroscientists is understanding the neurobiological bases of the development of memory processes, and how the abnormal development of medial temporal lobe structures contributes to the etiology of neurodevelopmental and genetic disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.Our overall research program is integrative and multidisciplinary, focusing on the postnatal neuroanatomical and functional maturation of the primate hippocampal formation with the principal goals of understanding the neurobiological basis of memory processes and the etiology of human neurodevelopmental disorders. The data generated by our research program will provide a comprehensive picture of the maturity of the primate hippocampal formation at birth, as well as the ages at which a variety of neuroanatomical features achieve adult characteristics. By determining when such developmental milestones occur, we will be able to suggest ages at which specific hippocampal circuits are able to subserve specific memory processes. Our studies will also characterize the structural reorganization of the brain that enables functional recovery following early, but not late, hippocampal damage. Our findings will have broad implications for our understanding of human memory processes across the lifespan. Our research carried out in the monkey will also define processes, substrates and critical periods of maturation that might be particularly sensitive to perturbation and contribute to developmental and genetic disorders of the human nervous system such as autism, schizophrenia and epilepsy.