Hippocampus

The hippocampus is the part of your brain that assists in collecting your memories as well as all the senses related to an experience. For example, when you think of that trip you took to the lake last summer your brain can also recall the smell of the trees, the color of the water, the warmth of the sun, the sense of accomplishment in learning to water ski as well as the sequence of events throughout the weekend.

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The hippocampus is part of the limbic system and is shaped like a horseshoe in the temporal lobes on the left and right hemispheres of the brain as in the picture below:

Damage to this area of the brain can limit the formation of new memories while leaving distant memories intact. The hippocampus is sensitive to oxygen deprivation and may become damaged in situations like near drowning, heart attack, respiratory failure, sleep apnea and carbon monoxide poisoning. Frequent seizures could also impact the function of the hippocampus and generally is the first part of the brain impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Marijuana abuse can also damage the hippocampus and alcohol use shuts down the hippocampus.

Scientific testing has been ongoing for years to develop an artificial hippocampus in the form of a micro chip which would be planted on the skull and store memories much like a flash drive on a computer.