Electrical stimulation in hippocampus and entorhinal cortex impairs spatial and temporal memory

Abhinav Goyal, Jonathan Miller, Andrew J. Watrous, Sang Ah Lee, Tom Coffey, Michael R. Sperling, Ashwini Sharan, Gregory Worrell, Brent Berry, Bradley Lega, Barbara C. Jobst, Kathryn A. Davis, Cory Inman, Sameer A. Sheth, Paul A. Wanda, Youssef Ezzyat, Sandhitsu R. Das, Joel Stein, Richard Gorniak, Joshua Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The medial temporal lobe (MTL) is widely implicated in supporting episodic memory and navigation, but its precise functional role in organizing memory across time and space remains elusive. Here we examine the specific cognitive processes implemented by MTL structures (hippocampus and entorhinal cortex) to organize memory by using electrical brain stimulation, leveraging its ability to establish causal links between brain regions and features of behavior. We studied neurosurgical patients of both sexes who performed spatial-navigation and verbal-episodic memory tasks while brain stimulation was applied in various regions during learning. During the verbal memory task, stimulation in the MTL disrupted the temporal organization of encoded memories such that items learned with stimulation tended to be recalled in a more randomized order. During the spatial task, MTL stimulation impaired subjects’ abilities to remember items located far away from boundaries. These stimulation effects were specific to the MTL. Our findings thus provide the first causal demonstration in humans of the specific memory processes that are performed by the MTL to encode when and where events occurred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4471-4481
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 9 2018


  • Brain stimulation
  • Entorhinal cortex
  • Episodic memory
  • Hippocampus
  • Medial temporal lobe
  • Spatiotemporal memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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