Menno Witter was born in The Netherlands in 1953. He did his PhD with professors Anthony Lohman and Fernando Lopes da Silva at the VU University and VU medical center in Amsterdam, where he published the first detailed anatomical account of the organization of the entorhinal cortex, focusing on its role in hippocampal-cortical interactions (1985). After his Ph.D., he worked with David Amaral and Gary VanHoesen in the US (1985/1986) on the organization of the entorhinal-hippocampal system in primates and continued to work as assistant professor in the department of Anatomy at the Vrije University. In 1989 he published two influential papers on the anatomy of the cortico-hippocampal system, which still are considered 'classics' in the field. In these papers he proposed functional differentiation within the hippocampus and parahippocampus, an issue which is now at the heart of some of the more promising research lines in the hippocampal field. In 1990, together with David Amaral, he initiated the launch of the journal Hippocampus, which, now being in its 19th year, is a major vehicle for communication among scientists in the field. As of 1990, he headed his own research group, focusing on the functional organization of the medial temporal lobe (MTL), in particular in relation to learning and memory and Alzheimer's disease. In 1993, he worked as a visiting scientist and senior consultant with Prof. Dr. G. Matsumoto and Dr. T. Iijima, ETL, Tsukuba, Japan, where he started to use voltage-sensitive dye imaging to study network properties of the hippocampal-parahippocampal system. This powerful approach resulted in the description of networks potentially mediating reverberation, a proposed mechanism for memory storage. This collaboration has continued over the years, focusing on possible interactions between multiple input pathways onto identified neuronal populations.

In 1995, he was appointed as full professor in Anatomy and Embryology at the VU University Medical Center where he continued his work on functional anatomy of the cortico-hippocampal system, combined with in vivo electrophysiology and human functional MRI studies. He contributed significantly to our understanding of parallel input-output pathways between the parahippocampal region and the hippocampus, and the possibility of functional heterogeneity between hippocampal and parahippocampal subfields as well as within the individual subfields. In addition, on the basis of clinical and experimental data, he published a series of influential papers on the role of the midline and intralaminar thalamus in cognition and its contribution to diencephalic amnesia and frontal syndromes. In 1999 he was appointed as scientific director of the Institute for Neuroscience of the VU/VUmc and as director of the Graduate School Neuroscience Amsterdam. He was one of the founding directors of the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research VU/Vumc (2003).

In 2004 he was appointed as visiting professor in the Centre for the Biology of Memory and the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. In 2007 he moved to Trondheim, where he continues his work on functional anatomy of the cortico-hippocampal system, relevant to memory processes in particular to spatial memory and navigation. He combines anatomical approaches with in vitro electrophysiology. His current research interests include the study of functional differentiation between cell types and cell layers in the entorhinal cortex, structural and connectional differences between the lateral and medial entorhinal cortex and the development of the entorhinal cortex and its connections. He is also involved in human functional MRI studies that focus on understanding functional heterogeneity within the human MTL.



Contact details

Menno Witter, PhD
Professor Neuroscience, Dept. Neuroscience
Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Centre for the Biology of Memory
MTFS, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
NO-7489 Trondheim, Norway
Phone: +47 73598249
Fax: +47 73598294
Email: menno.witter at(@)

pubmed: publications mp witt...

NCBI: db=pubmed; Term=witter MP[Author] NCBI pubmed
  • Related Articles From details to large-scale: the representation of environmental positions follows a granularity gradient along the human hippocampal and entorhinal anterior-posterior axis. Hippocampus. 2014 Aug 25; Authors: Evensmoen HR, Ladstein J, Hansen TI, M Ller JA, Witter MP, Nadel L, Håberg AK Abstract In rodents representations of environmental positions follow a granularity gradient along the hippocampal and entorhinal anterior-posterior axis; with fine-grained representations most posteriorly. To investigate if such a gradient exists in humans, functional magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired during virtual environmental learning of the objects' positions and the association between the objects and room geometry. Encoding of association between the objects and room geometry led to increased activation throughout the hippocampus and in the posterior entorhinal cortex. Within subject comparisons related specifically to the level of spatial granularity of the object position encoding showed that activation in the posterior and intermediate hippocampus was highest for Fine-grained and Medium-grained representations, respectively. Additionally, the level of fine granularity in the objects' positions encoded between subjects correlated with posterior hippocampal activation. For the anterior hippocampus increased activation was observed for Coarse-grained representations compared to Failed encoding. Activation in anterior hippocampus correlated with the number of environments in which the objects positions were remembered when permitting a coarse representation of positions. Activation in the posterior entorhinal cortex correlated with level of fine granularity for the objects' positions encoded between subjects, and activation in the posterior and intermediate entorhinal cortex increased for Medium-grained representations. This demonstrates directly that positional granularity is represented in a graded manner along the anterior-posterior axis of the human hippocampus, and to some extent entorhinal cortex, with most Fine-grained positional representations posteriorly. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. PMID: 25155295 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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