The hippocampus is a small part of the brain located in the temporal lobe. Thought to have a high degree of plasticity (the ability to form and rearrange connections), it plays a large role in forming, storing, and organizing memories. The hippocampus is affected in neuropsychiatric disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
The hippocampus is considered part of the limbic system. The limbic system is the primal part of the brain, responsible for things like hunger and sex drive. It’s also believed the limbic system controls emotions and evaluates pain and pleasure. Other parts of the brain that make up the limbic system include the hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, and limbic cortex.
The hippocampus is made of three distinct parts: the hippocampus proper, the subiculum, and the dentate gyrus.
What Does The Hippocampus Do?
The hippocampus helps you make decisions and learn new things, along with regulating emotions. The hippocampus also consolidates and helps you recall memories. The hippocampus is also thought to be involved with spatial perception.
The hippocampus is a critical structure in the brain and atrophy (shrinking) of this area is considered a marker of cognitive decline and depression.
While research indicates that hippocampal neurogenesis (new neurons forming in the hippocampus) is possible, research also suggests the shrinking which occurs in the hippocampus as a result of a depressive episode could be permanent.
Do Psychedelics Affect Hippocampus?
Research suggests that psychoactive medications can affect the hippocampus, and could possibly account for the anti-depressive effects of certain psychedelic treatments.