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Functional Neuroanatomy of the Parahippocampal Region

The cortical regions that surround the hippocampus and provide its major sensory associational input are the perirhinal, postrhinal, and entorhinal cortices. We are currently documenting the cortical, subcortical, and hippocampal connections of these regions.

The medial temporal lobe (MTL) comprises the brain structures implicated in episodic memory, or every day memory for fact and events. The region consists of several interconnected structures, including the hippocampal formation (the dentate gyrus, fields CA3, CA2, and CA1, and the subiculum) and the parahippocampal region (perirhinal, postrhinal/ parahippocampal, and entorhinal cortices, the pre- and parasubiculum). The hippocampal and parahippocampal regions exhibit substantial cellular, structural, and connectional homology across rodent and primate brains. Thus, rodents provide an excellent animal model of human MTL function and the neural bases of memory (Figure 1). A better understanding of the functions of individual MTL structures could significantly improve our ability to treat and prevent memory disorders associated with brain trauma or disease, e.g. Alzheimer 's Disease, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

We are particularly interested in the parahippocampal structures. The lab recently completed a series of neuronal tract tracing studies that described the cortical, subcortical, and hippocampal connections of the perirhinal, postrhinal, and entorhinal cortices. Those papers are either published or in preparation. In the future we will more closely address the microcircuitry of the parahippocampal structures, beginning with the postrhinal cortex. We have already begun recording in slice preparations in collaboration with colleague, Barry Connors. Cells in postrhinal cortex contain neurons of diverse morphology (Figure 2). We are just beginning to explore the physiology of these neurons (Figure 3). Future studies will employ multiple approaches to better understand the intrinsic connections of the parahippocampal cortices.

Brown faculty collaborators:

Eric Morrow

Other project collaborators:

Kara Agster, former graduate student
Sandy Brown, former technician
David Amaral, former postdoc advisor
Sharon Furtak, current postdoc
Kristin Kerr, current graduate student
Shau-Ming Wei, former graduate student
Joe Sills, former honors student

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Research at Brown: Rebecca Burwell: Functional Neuroanatomy of the Parahippocampal Region
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