Department Statement on On-line Assessment
The 2020 Herbert Jasper Lecture will be delivered by Bruce L. McNaughton, AIHS Polaris Research Chair at the University of Lethbridge, Canada. His lecture is entitled ’Zipping’ and ‘unzipping’ the hippocampal index. A reception will follow.
The Neuro's Herbert Jasper Lecture was established in 1989. Dr. Jasper, who passed away in 1999, worked together with Wilder Penfield at The Neuro during his early and very seminal years (1937-1964) and remained associated with the Institute for the remainder of his career and life in Montreal. This lectureship, which is focused like the work of Jasper upon Neurophysiology was instituted in his honor.
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There is a long-standing tension between the notion that the hippocampal formation is essentially a spatial mapping system, and the notion that it plays an essential role in the establishment of episodic memory and the consolidation of such memory into structured knowledge about the world. One theory that resolves this tension is the notion that the hippocampus generates rather arbitrary 'index' codes that serve initially to link attributes of episodic memories that are stored in widely dispersed and only weakly connected neocortical modules. I will show how an essentially 'spatial' coding mechanism, with some tweaks, provides an ideal indexing system and discuss the neural coding strategies that the hippocampus apparently uses to overcome some biological constraints affecting the possibility of shipping the index code out widely to the neocortex. Finally, I will present new data suggesting that the hippocampal index code is indeed transferred to layer II-III of the neocortex.