The hippocampus plays an prominent role in memory and is part of the brain’s limbic system. The hippocampus not only plays an important role in memory, but also plays a role in emotion. Emotions such as love, joy, hate, sadness, and passion originate in the limbic area of the brain.
In 2004, it was discovered that the hippocampus also played in a major role in long-term memory. The hippocampus does several things. It helps an individual transform experiences into new memories, transform new memories into long-term memories, and retrieves old memories.
The hippocampus and memory are connected, so damage to this area of the brain can interrupt a person’s memory abilities. Some common ways in which the hippocampus is damaged includes oxygen deprivation, stress, and epilepsy. If the hippocampus suffers from severe damage, an individual could develop amnesia.
The hippocampus area of the brain is more vulnerable to stress than other areas. Long-term stress can cause that region of the brain to atrophy. Once it atrophies, severe health conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia could manifest.
Post traumatic stress disorder or psychological trauma can have a detrimental effect on the hippocampus and memory. Childhood abuse is the most common cause of post traumatic stress. Posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to a reduction in volume of the hippocampus brain area and affect hippocampus-based learning and memory.
Scientists are interested in studying the hippocampus and memory for various medical reasons. In addition to holding the solution to Alzheimer’s disease, studying the hippocampus may also lead to breakthroughs in amnesia, post traumatic stress syndrome, schizophrenia, epilepsy and bipolar disorder. As scientists better understand how the hippocampus and memory works, new treatments for Alzheimer’s and other memory-related disease will become possible.