Bilateral hippocampal dysfunction in schizophrenia. Academic Article uri icon


  • The hippocampus has long been known to be important for memory, with the right hippocampus particularly implicated in nonverbal/visuo-spatial memory and the left in verbal/narrative or episodic memory. Despite this hypothesized lateralized functional difference, there has not been a single task that has been shown to activate both the right and left hippocampi differentially, dissociating the two, using neuroimaging. The transverse patterning (TP) task is a strong candidate for this purpose, as it has been shown in human and nonhuman animal studies to theoretically and empirically depend on the hippocampus. In TP, participants choose between stimuli presented in pairs, with the correct choice being a function of the specific pairing. In this project, TP was used to assess lateralized hippocampal function by varying its dependence on verbal material, with the goal of dissociating the two hippocampi. Magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data were collected while controls performed verbal and nonverbal versions of TP in order to verify and validate lateralized activation within the hippocampi. Schizophrenia patients were evaluated to determine whether they exhibited a lateralized hippocampal deficit. As hypothesized, patients' mean level of behavioral performance was poorer than controls' on both verbal and nonverbal TP. In contrast, patients had no decrement in performance on a verbal and nonverbal non-hippocampal-dependent matched control task. Also, controls but not patients showed more right hippocampal activation during nonverbal TP and more left hippocampal activation during verbal TP. These data demonstrate the capacity to assess lateralized hippocampal function and suggest a bilateral hippocampal behavioral and activation deficit in schizophrenia.Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • October 2011