Think of the hippocampi as the gateway brain structures for memory formation. Long-term memories pass through these structures before being stored throughout the brain. For example, visual cues are routed to and stored in the occipital lobes, sensory cues go to the parietal lobes, sounds head to the temporal lobes, and so on.
When the hippocampi are healthy, they help with learning and memory. Shrinkage, or loss of volume, in these brain structures is associated with memory problems, cognitive decline, and in severe cases, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias1.
Emerging brain-imaging research2 points to another reason why the hippocampi are so important to us: They house stem cells that generate new neurons. This means the hippocampus is continually evolving throughout adulthood. One study3 suggests humans can produce as many as 700 new hippocampal cells a day, provided we put them in a nourishing environment.
That’s why it’s so important to know what nourishes your hippocampi—and what shrinks them.