Differential association of left and right hippocampal volumes with verbal episodic and spatial memory in older adults

Ali Ezzati, Mindy J. Katz, Andrea R. Zammit, Michael L. Lipton, Molly E. Zimmerman, Martin J. Sliwinski, Richard B. Lipton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


The hippocampus plays a critical role in verbal and spatial memory, thus any pathological damage to this formation may lead to cognitive impairment. It is suggested that right and left hippocampi are affected differentially in healthy or pathologic aging. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that verbal episodic memory performance is associated with left hippocampal volume (HV) while spatial memory is associated with right HV. 115 non-demented adults over age 70 were drawn from the Einstein Aging Study. Verbal memory was measured using the free recall score from the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test – immediate recall (FCSRT-IR), logical memory immediate and delayed subtests (LM-I and LM-II) from the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised (WMS-R). Spatial Memory was measured using a computerized dot memory paradigm that has been validated for use in older adults. All participants underwent 3 T MRI with subsequent automatized measurement of the volume of each hippocampus. The sample had a mean age of 78.7 years (SD=5.0); 57% were women, and 52% were white. Participants had a mean of 14.3 years (SD=3.5) of education. In regression models, two tests of verbal memory (FCSRT-IR free recall and LM-II) were positively associated with left HV, but not with right HV. Performance on the spatial memory task was associated with right HV, but not left HV. Our findings support the hypothesis that the left hippocampus plays a critical role in episodic verbal memory, while right hippocampus might be more important for spatial memory processing among non-demented older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-385
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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