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Hippocampal dysfunction is implicated in numerous neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, and hippocampal damage is classically associated with memory loss. Not surprisingly, the hippocampus is one of the most intensely studied and scrutinised of brain regions. However, questions remain as to the precise function(s) performed by this structure, not only in memory but also in aspects of emotionality, in particular anxiety. For example, the role that NMDA receptors and synaptic plasticity (as typified by long-term potentiation; LTP) play in hippocampal learning and memory remains controversial. Similarly, the role of new, adult-born granule cells in the dentate gyrus subfield of the hippocampus in behaviour is also far from clear. Based on recent studies in which we have used genetically modified mice to investigate these questions, I will re-examine the role of the hippocampus in behaviour. Borrowing from Jeffrey Gray (an illustrious alumni of this Department), I will present an account of hippocampal function that explains its role in both memory and anxiety.

 

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