Memory and space: Towards an understanding of the cognitive map

Daniela Schiller, Howard Eichenbaum, Elizabeth A. Buffalo, Lila Davachi, David J. Foster, Stefan Leutgeb, Charan Ranganath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


More than 50 years of research have led to the general agreement that the hippocampus contributes to memory, but there has been a major schism among theories of hippocampal function over this time. Some researchers argue that the hippocampus plays a broad role in episodic and declarative memory, whereas others argue for a specific role in the creation of spatial cognitive maps and navigation. Although both views have merit, neither provides a complete account of hippocampal function. Guided by recent reviews that attempt to bridge between these views, here we suggest that reconciliation can be accomplished by exploring hippocampal function from the perspective of Tolman’s (1948) original conception of a cognitive map as organizing experience and guiding behavior across all domains of cognition.Weemphasize recent studies in animals and humans showing that hippocampal networks support a broad range of domains of cognitive maps, that these networks organize specific experiences within the contextually relevant map, and that network activity patterns reflect behavior guided through cognitive maps. These results are consistent with a framework that bridges theories of hippocampal function by conceptualizing the hippocampus as organizing incoming information within the context of a multidimensional cognitive map of spatial, temporal, and associational context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13904-13911
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 14 2015


  • Cognitive map
  • Hippocampus
  • Memory
  • Navigation
  • Social
  • Space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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