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Neural changes underlying the development of episodic memory during middle childhood

  • Author(s): Ghetti, S
  • Bunge, SA
  • et al.
Abstract

Episodic memory is central to the human experience. In typically developing children, episodic memory improves rapidly during middle childhood. While the developmental cognitive neuroscience of episodic memory remains largely uncharted, recent research has begun to provide important insights. It has long been assumed that hippocampus-dependent binding mechanisms are in place by early childhood, and that improvements in episodic memory observed during middle childhood result from the protracted development of the prefrontal cortex. We revisit the notion that binding mechanisms are age-invariant, and propose that changes in the hippocampus and its projections to cortical regions also contribute to the development of episodic memory. We further review the role of developmental changes in lateral prefrontal and parietal cortices in this development. Finally, we discuss changes in white matter tracts connecting brain regions that are critical for episodic memory. Overall, we argue that changes in episodic memory emerge from the concerted effort of a network of relevant brain structures. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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