Team develops better understanding of memory retrieval between children and adults

July 24, 2012

Neuroscientists from Wayne State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are taking a deeper look into how the brain mechanisms for memory retrieval differ between adults and children. While the memory systems are the same in many ways, the researchers have learned that crucial functions with relevance to learning and education differ. The team's findings were published on July 17, 2012, in the Journal of Neuroscience.

According to lead author Noa Ofen, Ph.D., assistant professor in WSU's Institute of Gerontology and Department of Pediatrics, cognitive ability, including the ability to learn and remember new information, dramatically changes between childhood and adulthood. This ability parallels with dramatic changes that occur in the structure and function of the brain during these periods.

In the study, "The Development of Associated with Successful of Scenes," Ofen and her collaborative team tested the development of neural underpinnings of memory from childhood to . The team of researchers exposed participants to pictures of scenes and then showed them the same scenes mixed with new ones and asked them to judge whether each picture was presented earlier. Participants made retrieval judgments while researchers collected images of their brains with (MRI).

Using this method, the researchers were able to see how the brain remembers. "Our results suggest that cortical regions related to attentional or strategic control show the greatest developmental changes for memory retrieval," said Ofen.

The researchers said that older participants used the cortical regions more than younger participants when correctly retrieving past experiences.

"We were interested to see whether there are changes in the connectivity of regions in the brain that support memory retrieval," Ofen added. "We found changes in connectivity of memory-related regions. In particular, the developmental change in connectivity between regions was profound even without a developmental change in the recruitment of those regions, suggesting that functional brain connectivity is an important aspect of developmental changes in the brain."

This study marks the first time that the development of connectivity within memory systems in the brain has been tested, and the results suggest that the brain continues to rearrange connections to achieve adult-like performance during development.

Ofen and her research team plan to continue research in this area, focused on modeling brain network connectivity, and applying these methods to study abnormal brain development.

Explore further: The big picture: Long-term imaging reveals intriguing patterns of human brain maturation

Related Stories

The big picture: Long-term imaging reveals intriguing patterns of human brain maturation

December 7, 2011
Neuroimaging has provided fascinating insight into the dynamic nature of human brain maturation. However, most studies of developmental changes in brain anatomy have considered individual locations in relative isolation from ...

Activity in brain networks related to features of depression

April 3, 2012
Depressed individuals with a tendency to ruminate on negative thoughts, i.e. to repeatedly think about particular negative thoughts or memories, show different patterns of brain network activation compared to healthy individuals, ...

Depressed? Crossed wires in the brain

December 8, 2011
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a severely debilitating illness characterized by sadness and an inability to cope. Not only does it affect a person's ability to concentrate and make decisions, it also alters their ability ...

Autism risk gene linked to differences in brain structure

March 21, 2012
Healthy individuals who carry a gene variation linked to an increased risk of autism have structural differences in their brains that may help explain how the gene affects brain function and increases vulnerability for autism. ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find monkey brain structure that decides if viewed objects are new or unidentified

August 18, 2017
A team of researchers working at the University of Tokyo School of Medicine has found what they believe is the part of the monkey brain that decides if something that is being viewed is recognizable. In their paper published ...

Artificial neural networks decode brain activity during performed and imagined movements

August 18, 2017
Artificial intelligence has far outpaced human intelligence in certain tasks. Several groups from the Freiburg excellence cluster BrainLinks-BrainTools led by neuroscientist private lecturer Dr. Tonio Ball are showing how ...

Study of nervous system cells can help to understand degenerative diseases

August 18, 2017
The results of a new study show that many of the genes expressed by microglia differ between humans and mice, which are frequently used as animal models in research on Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

How whip-like cell appendages promote bodily fluid flow

August 18, 2017
Researchers at Nagoya University have identified a molecule that enables cell appendages called cilia to beat in a coordinated way to drive the flow of fluid around the brain; this prevents the accumulation of this fluid, ...

Researchers make surprising discovery about how neurons talk to each other

August 17, 2017
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have uncovered the mechanism by which neurons keep up with the demands of repeatedly sending signals to other neurons. The new findings, made in fruit flies and mice, challenge ...

Neurons involved in learning, memory preservation less stable, more flexible than once thought

August 17, 2017
The human brain has a region of cells responsible for linking sensory cues to actions and behaviors and cataloging the link as a memory. Cells that form these links have been deemed highly stable and fixed.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.