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There is a little debate going on in my lab about whether or not the hippocampus is a subcortical structure. There are points made on both sides, and primary and secondary sources do not seem to form a solid consensus on this. On the one hand, the hippocampus is associated with other subcortical structures, such as the amygdala and dentate gyrus; has a specialized function; and has a neural architecture that distinguishes it from neocortex. On the other hand, it is continuous with the temporal cortex; has a similarly layered structure; and is allocortical, like the entorhinal cortex and anterior insula, which are generally not considered to be subcortical. So the questions are: is the hippocampus subcortical? And, thinking of the bigger picture, is it useful to classify it one way or the other?

Edit: our lab PI has weighed in with an evolutionary and developmental neuroscience perspective. Namely, they point out that the hippocampus is ancestrally part of the medial pallium, and that it has the same transcription factor expression profile as cortex.

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    $\begingroup$ Due to several reasons, most of which you mentioned, it is in a grey zone. Simplifications such as "cortical" and "sub-cortical" stop being useful when talking about the hippocampus. What is the use of classifying the hippocampus as cortical or sub-cortical? I would argue that this discussion is only useful to show the limitations of concepts like "cortical" and "sub-cortical". $\endgroup$
    – vkehayas
    Oct 4, 2022 at 8:55

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