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Hippocampal Anatomy Supports the Use of Context in Object Recognition: A Computational Model

DOI: 10.1155/2013/294878

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The human hippocampus receives distinct signals via the lateral entorhinal cortex, typically associated with object features, and the medial entorhinal cortex, associated with spatial or contextual information. The existence of these distinct types of information calls for some means by which they can be managed in an appropriate way, by integrating them or keeping them separate as required to improve recognition. We hypothesize that several anatomical features of the hippocampus, including differentiation in connectivity between the superior/inferior blades of DG and the distal/proximal regions of CA3 and CA1, work together to play this information managing role. We construct a set of neural network models with these features and compare their recognition performance when given noisy or partial versions of contexts and their associated objects. We found that the anterior and posterior regions of the hippocampus naturally require different ratios of object and context input for optimal performance, due to the greater number of objects versus contexts. Additionally, we found that having separate processing regions in DG significantly aided recognition in situations where object inputs were degraded. However, split processing in both DG and CA3 resulted in performance tradeoffs, though the actual hippocampus may have ways of mitigating such losses. 1. Introduction We make sense of the world by comparing our immediate sensations with memories of similar situations. A very basic type of situation is an encounter with objects in a context. For example, objects such as a salt shaker, a glass, and a sink are expected in a kitchen. Even if these objects are encountered in an office, they suggest a kitchen-like function to the area (e.g., it is a kitchenette—not a work cubicle). In other words, the objects evoke the context in which they have been experienced in the past, and the context evokes objects that have been experienced there. The hippocampus, which is essential for the storage and retrieval of memories, is likely to play a central role in this associational process. In rats, the hippocampus is oriented along a dorsal-ventral axis, while in primates this axis becomes an anterior-posterior axis. In both species, signals reach the hippocampus via the entorhinal cortex (EC layers II and III), which can be divided into lateral and medial portions (denoted LEC and MEC, resp.). Both the LEC and MEC can be further subdivided into caudolateral and rostromedial bands, with the caudolateral bands projecting mainly to the posterior half of the hippocampus and the


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