Revising memory systems in the human brain

23 April 2024 - Seminar
23 April 2024
Start time 
6:30 pm
Collegio Clesio - Via Santa Margherita 13, Trento
Aula Seminari
Target audience: 
UniTrento students

Revising memory systems in the human brain

Speaker: Valeria Della Maggiore, senior lecturer at University of Buenos Aires

Valeria Della Maggiore is a neuroscientist, head of the Physiology of Action Lab@IFIBIO, University of Buenos Aires.

Her work focuses on understanding the mechanisms involved in human motor learning and memory persistence. Non-invasive techniques are used  to examine plastic changes involved in these processes both during wake and sleep, with the ultimate goal of contributing to rehabilitation and sports training.

In the 1950s, Brenda Milner's extensive research on patient H.M., the most famous patient in the history of Neuroscience, revealed that the surgical resection of a large brain structure called the hippocampus, profoundly impacted his ability to learn new autobiographic memories about episodes/events. Surprisingly, this surgical procedure, aimed at alleviating his refractory epilepsy, did not affect his capacity to learn and retain new information from motor tasks. Milner's groundbreaking work introduced the concept of specialized memory systems, challenging the established paradigm at the time conceiving memory as a function distributed throughout the brain (equipotentiality theory). Despite its invaluable contribution to the development of the field of Cognitive Neuroscience, Milner's work inevitably introduced a dichotomy, with conscious memories on life episodes (episodic memory) viewed as hippocampus-dependent, and unconscious memory (e.g., motor memories) as hippocampus-independent. This dichotomy led to a fragmented field in memory research, where the study of the neural mechanisms supporting the formation and persistence of episodic and motor memories progressed along parallel paths.

In her talk, Dr. Della Maggiore will revise the history of memory systems and will show recent neuroimaging data from her lab against this dichotomy, supporting the participation of the hippocampus in motor learning.