The entorhinal cortex It is located in the medial temporal lobe and serves as a connector between the hippocampus and the neocortex. It performs extraordinarily important functions towards the consolidation of autobiographical memory (the one that allows us to know who we are). Similarly, it is involved in declarative, procedural and spatial memory processes.
Also, it is believed that remarkably influences the consolidation of memory and its optimization during sleep. Undoubtedly, this little anatomical area, little known, is of outstanding relevance in regards to our executive and cognitive functionality. Let's take a closer look.
Importance and characteristics of the entorhinal cortex
Intimately connected with the hippocampus, the deepest warehouse in our memory, it also has an infinity of connections with different brain areas. Above all, it connects with important sensory pathways such as visual and olfactory. In addition, it is related to frontal, parietal and temporal lobe structures.
However, the most important thing is that the entorhinal cortex It acts as a connector between the hippocampus and other areas of the brain. That is to say, It serves as a passing station and filter or distributor of information entering and leaving it.
The entorhinal cortex, being an integral part of the limbic system, receives afferences from the amygdala, giving memories of the emotional character so characteristic.
An example of this function is called emotion-thought congruence phenomenon. That is, when we are sad, we usually remember sad events of our step. The opposite happens when we are happy. Likewise, the conscious memory of certain kinds of happy or sad events can influence our emotional state. This fact would be more expensive evidence to the validity of cognitive psychology.
Functions of the entorhinal cortex
The importance of this small structure is notorious, It allows to perform and integrate a good number of cognitive functions, without which our conscious and purposeful experience would be greatly diminished, namely:
It's a connector
Effectively, connects the hippocampus with other structures of the limbic system and the neocortex, allowing a wide and detailed experience of the events stored in memory. It gives them meaning, places them in time and context, It gives them meaning and envelops them with emotional content.
Strengthen the memory
Experimentally it is known that lesions in the entorhinal cortex hinder, hinder and prevent the consolidation of memories, producing amnesia.
Therefore, the importance of this structure for the consolidation and strengthening of memories is paramount. Similarly, it is known to be active during sleep, especially during REM phase, which allows to consolidate the lessons learned during the vigil in our hours of night rest.
The power of gnosis
The entorhinal cortex Not only does it consolidate learning and memories, it also participates in the recognition of stimuli. It is closely linked to semantic memory, which tells us exactly what we see, hear, touch, smell, experience ... This quality it allows us to recognize the things that surround us and put them in context In the external world.
the entorhinal cortex It has an important associative power. It is able to integrate auditory and visual information, producing a more complete and profound sensory experience of reality.
This small structure also allows us to focus especially, notwithstanding the parietal lobe. It allows us to establish relationships between external stimuli and memory, promoting the creation of mind maps, which allow us to memorize itineraries and know where we are going or what direction we should take.
The power of smells
We have all experienced it ... there are smells that evoke memories. Did you know that the entorhinal cortex is directly involved in this phenomenon? Specifically, is able to encode the intensity of odors and associate them with specific memories.
In this way, a specific smell can make us recover an event of our life that we thought was forgotten, with an incredible amount of detail. We can testify again of experiences and memories we thought were lost forever.
Conclusions about the entorhinal cortex
In conclusion, the entorhinal cortex It is a small structure without which our conscious and unconscious experience, our cognitive abilities and executive functions would be seriously affected. Its function is to serve as a connector and work in a multimodal way in the integration of sensations, emotions, memories and thoughts.
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- Pepper, H. J. (2004). The cerebral cortex beyond the cortex.Colombian Journal of Psychiatry, 33(1), 58S-75S.
- Solís, H., & López-Hernández, E. (2009). Functional neuroanatomy of memory.Neuroscience Files, 14(3), 176-187.