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.
- Elected member of The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab)
- The Norwegian Academy of Science (Det Norske Vitensskaps-Akademi).
- Member of the editorial boards of Hippocampus and Brain Structure and Function.
- Section editor Neuroanatomy for Neuroscience and associate editor for Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.
- Visiting Professor, Graduate school for Life Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.
- Invited Lecturer Graduate Program Neuroscience, Univ. Murcia, Spain
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(@) ntnu.no
Related Articles Insular projections to the parahippocampal region in the rat. J Comp Neurol. 2015 Jan 14; Authors: Mathiasen ML, Hansen L, Witter MP Abstract The insular cortex is involved in the perception of interoceptive signals, coding of emotional and affective states, and processing information from gustatory, olfactory, auditory, somatosensory, and nociceptive modalities. This information represents an important component of episodic memory, mediated by the parahippocampal-hippocampal region. A comprehensive description of insular projections to the latter region is lacking. Previous studies reported that insular projections do not target any of the subdivisions in the hippocampal formation (the dentate gyus, the cornu ammonis (CA) fields 1,2, and 3 and the subiculum), but, in contrast, target the parahippocampal region (perirhinal, postrhinal, lateral and medial entorhinal cortices, and pre- and parasubiculum). The present study examined the topographical and laminar organization of insular projections to the parahippocampal region in the rat with the use of anterograde tracing. Notably, our results corroborated the absence of hippocampal projections. We further showed that the perirhinal and the lateral entorhinal cortices received extensive projections from the insular cortex, primarily from its agranular areas. With the exception of a weak projection to the postrhinal cortex, projections to the remaining parahippocampal areas were either absent or very sparse. The projections to the lateral entorhinal cortex displayed a preference for the deep layers of its most lateral subdivisions, known also to receive hippocampal inputs. Projections to the perirhinal cortex primarily targeted the superficial layers with a preference for its ventral subdivision, referred to as area 35. Our findings indicate that only processed information, reflecting emotional and affective states, but not primary gustatory and viscerosensory information, has direct access to the parahippocampal-hippocampal system. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. PMID: 25641117 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]