Combining patient-lesion and big data approaches to reveal hippocampal contributions to spatial memory and navigation

Sara Pishdadian, Antoine Coutrot, Lauren Webber, Michael Hornberger, Hugo Spiers, R. Shayna Rosenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Classic findings of impaired allocentric spatial learning and memory following hippocampal lesions indicate that the hippocampus supports cognitive maps of one’s environment. Many studies assess navigation in vista-space virtual reality environments and compare hippocampal-lesioned individuals’ performance to that of small control samples, potentially stifling detection of preserved and impaired performance. Using the mobile app Sea Hero Quest, we examined navigation in diverse complex environments in two individuals with hippocampal lesions relative to demographically matched controls (N = 17,734). We found surprisingly accurate navigation in several environments, particularly those containing a constrained set of sub-goals, paths, and/or turns. Areas of impaired performance may reflect a role for the hippocampus in anterograde memory and more flexible and/or precise spatial representations, even when the need for allocentric processing is minimal. The results emphasize the value of combining single cases with big data and illustrate navigation performance profiles in individuals with hippocampal compromise.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109977
Early online date14 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 May 2024

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