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Neurodevelopment of Episodic Memory

We are examining the neural correlates of the development of episodic memory. We have been conducting experimental studies involving children between the ages of 7 and 14 and adults. These experiments have examined the developing relationship between brain and function and: (a) the ability to recollect; and (b) the ability to distinguish between true and false memories.

Neuroimaging studies of the healthy adult brain have indicated that specific brain structures are involved in the ability to recollect events from one’s past (e.g., hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex etc.). Research has also shown that these brain structures undergo important developmental changes during childhood and adolescence.

We have been finding consistent age-related differences in the activation profiles of these regions (E.g. Demaster & Ghetti, 2013; Ghetti et al., 2010), and we are now beginning to experimentally manipulate the mechanisms that we hypothesize underly these age differences.

In addition to regional changes in structure and function, development may also occur in connections among the network of regions supporting episodic memory. Thus, we also investigate changes in white matter integrity and functional connections among these regions. We have begun to show that changes in both are associated with memory development (E.g. Paz-Alonzo, Gallego, & Ghetti, 2013; Wendelken et al., 2013).

We are also in the middle of data collection for a large-scale longitudinal study testing children three times between age 7 and 14. The main goal of this study is to investigate the contribution of structural and functional changes of the hippocampus and its projections to the development of episodic memory. To address this goal, we are collecting structural and functional MRI data as well as DTI data.