The hippocampus plays a crucial role in the consolidation of memory. Anatomically, the hippocampal head, body, and tail are connected to separate regions of the entorhinal cortex, which conveys processed information from the association cortices to the hippocampus. Little is known, however, about the functional segregation along its longitudinal axis. In the present study, we investigated whether the hippocampal head, body, or tail is selectively involved in verbal memory performance. A total of 511 nondemented participants, aged 60-90 years, underwent a three-dimensional HASTE brain scan in a 1.5-T MRI unit. Hippocampal volumes were measured by manual tracing on coronal slices. Segmentation was performed in anterior-posterior direction on the basis of predefined cutoffs allocating 35, 45, and 20% of slices to the head, body, and tail, respectively. Memory performance was assessed by a 15-word learning test including tasks of immediate and delayed recall. To analyze the association between head, body, and tail volumes and memory performance, we used multiple linear regression, adjusting for age, sex, education, and midsagittal area as a proxy for intracranial volume. Participants with larger hippocampal heads scored significantly higher in the memory test, most notably in delayed recall (0.41 word per SD increase in left hippocampal head (95% CI (0.16, 0.67)), 0.33 word per SD increase in right hippocampal head (95% CI 0.06, 0.59)). Our data suggest selective involvement of the hippocampal head in verbal memory, and add to recent findings of functional segregation along the longitudinal axis of the hippocampus.,
Department of Neurology

Hackert, V., den Heijer, T., Oudkerk, M., Koudstaal, P., Hofman, A., & Breteler, M. (2002). Hippocampal head size associated with verbal memory performance in nondemented elderly. NeuroImage, 17(3), 1365–1372. doi:10.1006/nimg.2002.1248