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Hippocampal-memory network development and episodic memory in early childhood



This research aims to characterize structural and functional development of the hippocampal-memory network in early childhood and its relation to age-related improvements in episodic memory ability.

The primary hypothesis is that dramatic improvements in episodic memory development observed during this period are the result of changes in the hippocampus and its progressive, integrative participation and segregation with cortical areas.  To address this we are examining 1)how changes in subregions of the hippocampus contribute to age-related improvements in memory ability during early childhood, 2) how the hippocampus becomes functionally integrated with cortical areas to establish a mature memory network and stabilize memory performance, and 3) neural changes that precede behavioral improvement in episodic memory.  Knowledge gained from this research will significantly advance the field by 1) providing information on neural mechanisms of change for a previously unexplored age group characterized by dramatic changes in episodic memory ability, 2) shifting focus away from a traditional region of interest approach to a network perspective, and 3) identifying ‘biomarkers’ of episodic memory development.

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