MEMORY MATURATION: UNDERSTANDING THE ROLE OF THE HIPPOCAMPUS IN LONG-TERM MEMORY FORMATION ACROSS DEVELOPMENT

All Authors:
Bridget Callaghan, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States (Primary Presenter)
Jennifer Silvers, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Alexa Tompary, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, PA, United States
Michelle VanTieghem, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States
Tricia Choy, Columbia University, New York, United States
Kaitlin O’Sullivan, Columbia University, New York, United States
Lila Davachi, Columbia University, New York, United States
Nim Tottenham, Columbia University, New York, NY, United States

Episodic memories underlie our sense of self, acting as the cornerstone of human experience. Healthy episodic memories are critical for emotional health as dysregulated memory systems characterize many mental illnesses. While children can learn and remember events for long periods of time, episodic memories undergo rapid change in childhood and through adolescence. However, the neural mechanisms underlying such developmental trajectories are not well explicated. In this study we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the role of the hippocampus in episodic memory encoding during childhood and adolescence (ages 5-17 years). We then assess youth’s memory performance outside of the scanner and a week later at their home. We test the prediction that encoding patterns in the hippocampus will strengthen with age, and will predict long term memory performance. The findings from this study are essential for our understanding of typical hippocampal maturation and the neurobiology of learning and memory in childhood.