Ventral hippocampus in rats, a sub-region that correlates to the anterior hippocampus in humans a sub-region located at the front plays a role in emotional regulation, found study.
The area, known as hippocampus, is a seahorse-shaped structure located deep inside the brain.
As part of the limbic system, it plays an important role in memory processing and spatial cognition, including how mammals learn to understand and navigate their environment.
"What this shows is that we may need to rethink how the hippocampus processes information," said Rutsuko Ito, Associate professor at the University of Toronto-Scarborough.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, revealed that because hippocampus plays a role in basic motivational behaviour, it may also offer important insights into a range of mental health illnesses.
Addiction, for example, could be linked to deficits of approach motivation. Anxiety and depression on the other hand could be linked to avoidance behaviours, all of which could manifest itself in this part of the brain, Ito said.
"Some patients have lesions to certain areas of this part of the brain, so hopefully we can assess them to see what particular aspects of approach avoidance behaviour may or may not be impacted," the researchers said.