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Regional hippocampal volumes and development predict learning and memory.

  • Author(s): Tamnes, Christian K
  • Walhovd, Kristine B
  • Engvig, Andreas
  • Grydeland, Håkon
  • Krogsrud, Stine K
  • Østby, Ylva
  • Holland, Dominic
  • Dale, Anders M
  • Fjell, Anders M
  • et al.

Published Web Location

The hippocampus is an anatomically and functionally heterogeneous structure, but longitudinal studies of its regional development are scarce and it is not known whether protracted maturation of the hippocampus in adolescence is related to memory development. First, we investigated hippocampal subfield development using 170 longitudinally acquired brain magnetic resonance imaging scans from 85 participants aged 8-21 years. Hippocampal subfield volumes were estimated by the use of automated segmentation of 7 subfields, including the cornu ammonis (CA) sectors and the dentate gyrus (DG), while longitudinal subfield volumetric change was quantified using a nonlinear registration procedure. Second, associations between subfield volumes and change and verbal learning/memory across multiple retention intervals (5 min, 30 min and 1 week) were tested. It was hypothesized that short and intermediate memory would be more closely related to CA2-3/CA4-DG and extended, remote memory to CA1. Change rates were significantly different across hippocampal subfields, but nearly all subfields showed significant volume decreases over time throughout adolescence. Several subfield volumes were larger in the right hemisphere and in males, while for change rates there were no hemisphere or sex differences. Partly in support of the hypotheses, greater volume of CA1 and CA2-3 was related to recall and retention after an extended delay, while longitudinal reduction of CA2-3 and CA4-DG was related to learning. This suggests continued regional development of the hippocampus across adolescence and that volume and volume change in specific subfields differentially predict verbal learning and memory over different retention intervals, but future high-resolution studies are called for.

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