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Hippocampus makes maps of social space, too

Brain structure known tracking physical locations also monitors other relationships

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9:00am, April 5, 2016
People socializing

SOCIAL CIRCLE  Nerve cells in the hippocampus may help people navigate through social space, a study suggests.

NEW YORK — Cells in a brain structure known as the hippocampus are known to be cartographers, drawing mental maps of physical space. But new studies show that this seahorse-shaped hook of neural tissue can also keep track of social space, auditory space and even time, deftly mapping these various types of information into their proper places.

“The hippocampus is an organizer,” says neuroscientist Howard Eichenbaum of Boston University.

Neuroscientist Rita Tavares described details of one of these new maps April 2 at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society. Brain scans had previously revealed that activity in the hippocampus was linked to movement through social space.

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