While we have traditionally understood the hippocampus to be involved in memory and navigation, it also appears that it has a role in language processing, creation and prediction. An obvious explanation for this is that language is impossible if linguistic signs cannot be remembered and retrieved. Because linguistic signs are definitionally biologically neutral or arbitrary, we must use the brain's apparatus for learning and storing information from the external world to store and retrieve them. Although plausible, this explanation fails to take into account the hippocampus' role in navigation as a contributing element in the processing, storage and retrieval of linguistic signs. Because the hippocampus also represents non-physical spaces through the same basic cognitive mechanisms with which it represents physical space, it is possible that the semantic content of linguistic signs is encoded in a fundamentally similar way to how navigational information is encoded. If true, this could have implications for education in general, and second language acquisition specifically. These experiments test whether there might be a learning benefit to presenting information in consistent spatial locations by having participants learn word associations in a 3-dimensional virtual environment. The experiments found that this was not the case. These findings have implications for education. Some educational paradigms stress learning in relevant contexts. These results suggest that physical location may not be an important component of a learning environment.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Neuroscience
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wasden, Thomas Benjamin Lyle, "Aiding Semantic Memory Creation with Navigational Context" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9398.
navigation, memory, hippocampus, word association