Document Type





medial temporal lobe, MTL, temporal context model, spatial navigation




Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychology


The medial temporal lobe (MTL) has been studied extensively at all levels of analysis, yet its function remains unclear. Theory regarding the cognitive function of the MTL has centered along 3 themes. Different authors have emphasized the role of the MTL in episodic recall, spatial navigation, or relational memory. Starting with the temporal context model (M.W. Howard and M. J. Kahana, 2002), a distributed memory model that has been applied to benchmark data from episodic recall tasks, the authors propose that the entorhinal cortex supports a gradually changing representation of temporal context and the hippocampus proper enables retrieval of these contextual states. Simulation studies show this hypothesis explains the firing of place cells in the entorhinal cortex and the behavioral effects of hippocampal lesion in relational memory tasks. These results constitute a first step towards a unified computational theory of MTL function that integrates neurophysiological, neuropsychological and cognitive findings.