Date of Publishing:
February 18, 2019

2008 © Mats Halldin


Within the temporal lobe of the brain is an elongated structure called the hippocampus after the Ancient Greek mythological sea animal, comparing its shape to that of a seahorse. This structure is special for a number of reasons. One is its role in memory encoding and consolidation.

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1564 the famous Italian anatomist and surgeon Julius Caesar Aranzi discovered a small structure when dissecting a human brain. He named it hippocampus because its form reminded him of a sea horse. Only 400 years later the significance of his discovery was revealed, when a young man named patient H. M., Henry Molaison, underwent a brain surgery that was supposed to cure him of his epileptic fits and saw both his hippocampi removed. As a result, H. M. suffered a loss from a significant part of his memory, his explicit memory. Molaison could, however, learn motor skills and iterate them, which lead to the discovery that procedural memory was not processed by the hippocampi.

Memory and dizziness are interrelated on at least two levels. First, the level of emotional orientation toward the experience and reflection of dizziness as something potentially creative or destructive. Second, the improvement of physical balance by training the vestibular system enhances explicit memory performance.

One of my favourite boyhood things was spinning around until I fell over and then the world would spin in the opposite direction. Henry Hills, 2008.

Working on his film Failed States (2008) filmmaker Henry Hills literally used dizziness as his resource. Spinning around and becoming dizzy with his camera in hand enabled him to overcome a severe crisis in his work. The vertiginous perception of the world seemed to match his current uncertainties about his work. His spinning and becoming dizzy was incited by a dear childhood memory that simultaneously represents an early experience of moving images – spinning and falling into the grass while watching the world turning around him. This positive reminiscence of becoming dizzy and putting the visual perception of the world in motion made coming back to dizziness as a method to get out of a crisis possible for Henry.The emotions, evoked through dizziness are germane because they orient us in relation to the experience. Sensations become feelings. Feelings become meaning in the sense of “ideas and values, that is: judgments about things. To hate or to fear is to have a judgment about a thing as it approaches.” specifies affect study scholar Sara Ahmed.

→ Balance training improves memory and spatial cognition in healthy adults.Ann-Kathrin Rogge, Brigitte Röder, Astrid Zech, Volker Nagel, Karsten Hollander, Klaus-Michael Braumann & Kirsten Hötting

Abstract: Physical exercise has been shown to improve cognitive functions. However, it is still unknown which type of exercise affects cognition. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that a demanding balance training program improves memory and spatial cognition. Forty healthy participants aged 19–65 years were randomly assigned to either a balance or relaxation training intervention. Each group exercised twice a week for a total of 12 weeks. Pre- and posttests assessed balance performance, cardiorespiratory fitness, memory, spatial cognition, and executive functions. Only the balance group significantly increased in balance performance from pre- to posttest, while cardiorespiratory fitness remained unchanged in both groups. Moreover, the balance group significantly improved in memory and spatial cognition. Effects on executive functions were not observed. These results suggest that balance training is capable of improving particularly memory and spatial cognition. Therefore, an increase in cardiorespiratory fitness does not seem to be necessary to induce beneficial effects of physical exercise on cognition. It might be speculated that stimulating the vestibular system during balance training induces changes of the hippocampus and parietal cortex possibly via direct pathways between the vestibular system and these brain regions.