The Hippocampus

As noted earlier, the hippocampus and amygdala are close buddies. They both handle memory, learning, and responding to fear and stress.

hippocampus.png While the amygdala focuses on emotional memories, the hippocampus (shaped somewhat like a seahorse) goes for the practical and factual memories. These memories are not actually stored in the hippocampus; rather, the hippocampus simply catalogues and files the information if the brain has determined the information worthy of saving. The information arrives at the hippocampus after the thalamus has sent it first to the part of the brain that processes that type of memory. Then, if the brain determines the information worthy of saving, it is sent to the hippocampus for filing.

It turns out that memories tend to be stored in the parts of the brain in which they are initially processed. Future posts will include more detailed discussion of how we handle our memories and learning.

Marilee Sprenger has a great metaphor to help kids differentiate between the roles of the amygdala and the hippocampus.

…the hippocampus tells them who the other boys and girls are [factual information], and the amygdala tells them whether they like them or not [emotional information].

You can read more about Memory, Learning and Emotion – the Hippocampus on Jim Phelps’ PsychEducation.org site.

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