Laboratory of Neuropsychology, NIMH, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.
Earlier studies found that recognition memory for object-place associations was impaired in patients with relatively selective hippocampal damage (Vargha-Khadem et al., Science 1997; 277:376-380), but was unaffected after selective hippocampal lesions in monkeys (Malkova and Mishkin, J Neurosci 2003; 23:1956-1965). A potentially important methodological difference between the two studies is that the patients were required to remember a set of 20 object-place associations for several minutes, whereas the monkeys had to remember only two such associations at a time, and only for a few seconds. To approximate more closely the task given to the patients, we trained monkeys on several successive sets of 10 object-place pairs each, with each set requiring learning across days. Despite the increased associative memory demands, monkeys given hippocampal lesions were unimpaired relative to their unoperated controls, suggesting that differences other than set size and memory duration underlie the different outcomes in the human and animal studies.