I want a way to exercise the hippocampus. So far, I have been doing Google searches for phrases like ‘hippocampus activation’ in order to discover research. Particularly, I have been looking for research that shows increased neuronal activity or blood flow to hippocampus using fMRI or PET. My theory is that, if you practice the things which increase activity in the hippocampus, you will develop your hippocampus. I have good basis for this theory, I believe. Here is what I have found so far.
First, the left hippocampus seems to be involved in contextual or episodic memory. The research here is tricky, because memory has many facets, and different recall tasks have different levels of activation in the left hippocampus. If you want to get maximal left hippocampal activation, you will need to exercise specific types of memory, I believe. My current proposal is this: display a list of words or letters on a color background for a specified period of time. Display another list, on a different color background. Do this for a total of three word lists and three colors. Now, display a random word from one of the lists. The user must press a key representing the color of the background upon which the word appeared. I believe this would activate left hippocampus pretty nicely. If anyone reading this has fMRI or PET equipment, I would appreciate verification.
Next, I found that the right hippocampus is completely different. It is used for spatial memory, such as map navigation. This is the area of the brain which gets really large for cabbies in London. Maze navigation, it would seem, is the way to activate the right hippocampus. But again it is tricky.Navigating withsequences of moves seems to involve the caudate instead of right hippocampus. Also rat tests have shown that various tweaks of a maze-navigation testcould optmize for activation of one of three areas of the brain: right hippocampus, caudate, and someoptical processing area. So, it would stink to do an exercise that you think is activating your right hippocampus, but have it activate the caudate instead. My current understanding is that the right hippocampus seems to be involved mainly when navigating by landmarks, and making new routes. Therefore, I think a game like Crimson Skies, with its 3D mazes and goal-oriented route-finding,is perfectly optimized for right hippocampus training.