Within the temporal lobe of the brain is an elongated structure called the hippocampus. Some people have compared its shape to that of a seahorse. This structure is special for a number of reasons. One is its role in memory encoding and consolidation. [Read more.]
1564 the famous Italian anatomist and surgeon Julius Caesar Aranzi discovered a small structure when dissecting a human brain. He named it hippocampus, because its form reminded him of that of a sea horse. Only 400 years later the sinificance of his discovery was revealed, when a young man named Henry Molaison, or patient H. M., underwent a brain surgery that was supposed to cure him from his epileptic fits and saw both his hippocampi removed. As a result H. M. suffered a loss from a significant part of his memory, his explicit memory. Molaison could, however, learn motor skills and iterate them, which lead to the discovery that procedural memory was not processed by the hippocampi.
→ Working on his film Failed States (2008) filmmaker Henry Hills literally used dizziness as his resource. Spinning around and becoming dizzy with his camera in hand enabled him to overcome a severe crisis in his work. Not only had the vertiginous perception of the world matched his uncertainties about his work, but his becoming dizzy also stimulated new sensations and brought back a childhood memory – spinning and falling into the grass while watching the world turning around him.
→ Balance training improves memory and spatial cognition in healthy adults.
Ann-Kathrin Rogge, Brigitte Röder, Astrid Zech, Volker Nagel, Karsten Hollander, Klaus-Michael Braumann & Kirsten Hötting
Abstract: Physical exercise has been shown to improve cognitive functions. However, it is still unknown which type of exercise affects cognition. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that a demanding balance training program improves memory and spatial cognition. Forty healthy participants aged 19–65 years were randomly assigned to either a balance or relaxation training intervention. Each group exercised twice a week for a total of 12 weeks. Pre- and posttests assessed balance performance, cardiorespiratory fitness, memory, spatial cognition, and executive functions. Only the balance group significantly increased in balance performance from pre- to posttest, while cardiorespiratory fitness remained unchanged in both groups. Moreover, the balance group significantly improved in memory and spatial cognition. Effects on executive functions were not observed. These results suggest that balance training is capable of improving particularly memory and spatial cognition. Therefore, an increase in cardiorespiratory fitness does not seem to be necessary to induce beneficial effects of physical exercise on cognition. It might be speculated that stimulating the vestibular system during balance training induces changes of the hippocampus and parietal cortex possibly via direct pathways between the vestibular system and these brain regions.