Associating Memories with Places

Have you ever passed by a place and instantly remembered something that happened there? And every time you go back there, it’s that one memory that always pops up? I have. I’ve always been curious as to what the science behind place association with memory; or if it was a thing that happened to other people.

An article by The Atlantic

Courtesy of:

Courtesy of:

states that some psychologists hypothesize that in order to lock in a memory, you have to associate that memory with a place. The act of this is called episodic memory formation. It’s taking ideas, occurrences, and so on to a place and time to remember it.

The scientists behind the study cited in the article have discovered this by using a process where they inject a virus into the brain that almost acts as a remote control for the brain. The article further goes on to show that researchers have discovered that the retrosplenial cortex, a section of the brain we know very little about, it a key component in the development of episodic memories.

Researchers have discovered this through the ‘remote control’ virus that they injected into the brains of rats for this study. As well, they discovered that they hippocampus, a part of the brain that is known for processing memories, is actually not all that important in creating episodic memories compared to the retrosplenial cortex.

So not only is associating a memory with a place very much an occurrence not only in humans but in rats, it’s an extremely complex process which science is very interested in.

3 thoughts on “Associating Memories with Places

  1. Jordan Smith

    This topic reminds me of the idea that chewing gum while studying will help you remember stuff better during the test. The two concepts share a similar idea in that memories are triggered by a specific sense. Whether it be the taste of the gum, or the sight of a certain place can suddenly make you remember something you either haven’t thought of in years or just studied for the night before. Here’s an article that talk about how emotions can do the same thing.

  2. jrg5625


    I found your post to be very interesting because I am interested in psychology. I can think of several places where, each time I visit, I am immediately reminded of someone or something. I am familiar with the term episodic memory. In order for a person to hold onto a memory, they must be able to tie it to a place or even another person. Our retrosplenial cortex does in fact control of our brains’ ability to create episodic memories. From your post, I learned that the hippocampus is not as integral to the process of making episodic memories as our retrosplenial cortex is.

    I think that overall your post is informative, but I also think it could use more details of how the experiment on the rats was conducted. It may be beneficial to add terms we learned in class such as identifying the variables in the experiment and to also include names of researchers and/or scientists from the articles you’ve chosen to write about.

    An episodic memory that I have is when I go back to visit my old horse farm, I am instantly reminded of the time my horse kicked me in the knee, knocking me to the ground. She was nervous when a visitor came too close to her stall, so her response was to kick her left leg back. Unfortunately, my knee was what came in contact with her forceful kick back.

    Your post intrigued me to read more on the subject of episodic memory creation in animals. Animals aren’t able to speak our language, so how can they communicate personal experiences? Well, I thought of it this way: When you take your dog to the vet to get a painful shot does it bark and scratch or pull away from you the next time you bring them back into the same office? Many dogs, I have seen, do this. It’s because they are smarter than we think. They can associate a place with a memory, pleasant or unpleasant. So as soon as they recognize where they are, they will be instantly reminded of the memory of what happened in that spot the last time they were there. If the place reminds them of something good, they will wag their tails and jump around in excitement. But when it’s time to go get that painful shot again, you may find yourself having a hard time putting on the leash and pulling your dog out the door.

    A journal article that you may find interest in reading is called “Episodic memory in animals: Remembering which occasion.” A preview of the article is available on To read the full version of the article, visit This website includes medical journals- one that specifically discusses episodic memory in humans and animals. Researchers and scientists are currently developing animal models to further investigate how animals create episodic memories and whether the process is similar to how humans do. Their findings will help them learn more about how humans create these types of memories as well.

  3. Michael Robert Szawaluk

    I think you have a great topic to talk about because associating memories with places can not only be used for childhood memories but could be used for witnesses in criminal investigations. We as a population underestimate the power of our memory. Whether it is due to the fact that we think we will remember or some confounding variables that make us forget, our memory is who we are and affects how we think. Reading this blog title the first thing that popped into my head was, “Oh deja vu”. Personally, I feel as if I experience deja vu on a daily basis. I am not completely sure how or why but fairly often when I pass someone or something I get the sensation that I already have been there doing something else. It is one of the strangest feelings you will ever have if it hits you hard enough. After some slight research at, I found out that I am not alone with my crazy brain malfunctions. The article goes on to report that around 70% of people experience it fairly often, and that while our brain is being affected their is no real physical sign you are experiencing deja vu besides for announcing it. Please check out that think for more fascinating information on this phenomenon.

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