Neural specificity of scene representations is related to memory performance in childhood

Successful memory encoding is supported by medial temporal, retrosplenial, and occipital regions, which show developmental differences in recruitment from childhood to adulthood. However, little is known about the extent to which neural specificity in these brain regions, or the distinctiveness with which sensory information is represented, continues to develop during middle childhood and how it contributes to memory performance. The present study used multivariate pattern analysis to examine the distinctiveness of different scene representations in 169 children and 31 adults, and its relation to memory performance. Most children provided data over up to three measurement occasions between 8 and 15 years (267 total scans), allowing us to examine changes in memory and neural specificity over time. Memory performance was lower in children than in adults, and increased in children over time. Different scenes presented during memory encoding could be reliably decoded from parahippocampal, lateral occipital, and retrosplenial regions in children and adults. Neural specificity in children was similar to adults, and did not change reliably over time. Among children, higher neural specificity in scene-processing regions was associated with better memory concurrently. These results suggest that the distinctiveness with which incoming information is represented is important for memory performance in childhood, but other processes operating on these representations support developmental improvements in memory performance over time.

Fandakova, Y., Leckey, S., Driver, C. C., Bunge, S. A., & Ghetti, S. (2019). Neural specificity of scene representations is related to memory performance in childhood. NeuroImage, 199, 105-113.
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