These people

These people can recall most previously learned memories satisfactorily. However, they often can learn essentially no new information that is based on verbal symbolism. In fact, they often cannot even learn the names of people with whom they come in contact every day. Yet they can remember for a moment or so what transpires during the course of their activities. Thus, they are capable of shortterm memory for seconds up to a minute or two, although their ability to establish memories lasting longer than a few minutes is either completely or almost completely abolished. This is the phenomenon called anterograde amnesia that was discussed in Chapter Theoretical Function of the Hippocampus in Learning. The hippocampus originated as part of the olfactory cortex. In many lower animals, this cortex plays essential roles in determining whether the animal will eat a particular food, whether the smell of a particular object suggests danger, or whether the odor is sexually inviting, thus making decisions that are of lifeordeath importance.Very early in evolutionary development of the brain, the hippocampus presumably became a critical decisionmaking neuronal mechanism, determining the importance of the incoming sensory signals. Once this critical decisionmaking capability had been established, presumably the remainder of the brain also began to call on the hippocampus for decision making. Therefore, if the hippocampus signals that a neuronal input is important, the information is likely to be committed to memory.