Flexible weighting of diverse inputs makes hippocampal function malleable

Mariam Aly, Nicholas B. Turk-Browne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Classic theories of hippocampal function have emphasized its role as a dedicated memory system, but recent research has shown that it contributes broadly to many aspects of cognition, including attention and perception. We propose that the reason the hippocampus plays such a broad role in cognition is that its function is particularly malleable. We argue that this malleability arises because the hippocampus receives diverse anatomical inputs and these inputs are flexibly weighted based on behavioral goals. We discuss examples of how hippocampal representations can be flexibly weighted, focusing on hippocampal modulation by attention. Finally, we suggest some general neural mechanisms and core hippocampal computations that may enable the hippocampus to support diverse cognitive functions, including attention, perception, and memory. Together, this work suggests that great progress can and has been made in understanding the hippocampus by considering how the domain-general computations it performs allow it to dynamically contribute to many different behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Jul 27 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Episodic memory
  • Match/mismatch detection
  • Pattern completion
  • Pattern separation
  • Relational representations


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