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Learning to remember: The early ontogeny of episodic memory

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sinead MullallyORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Over the past 60 years the neural correlates of human episodic memory have been the focus of intense neuroscientific scrutiny. By contrast, neuroscience has paid substantially less attention to understanding the emergence of this neurocognitive system. In this review we consider how the study of memory development has evolved. In doing so, we concentrate primarily on the first postnatal year because it is within this time window that the most dramatic shifts in scientific opinion have occurred. Moreover, this time frame includes the critical age (∼9 months) at which human infants purportedly first begin to demonstrate rudimentary hippocampal-dependent memory. We review the evidence for and against this assertion, note the lack of direct neurocognitive data speaking to this issue, and question how demonstrations of exuberant relational learning and memory in infants as young as 3-months old can be accommodated within extant models. Finally, we discuss whether current impasses in the infant memory literature could be leveraged by making greater use of neuroimaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which have been deployed so successfully in adults.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mullally SL, Maguire EA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Year: 2014

Volume: 9

Pages: 12-29

Print publication date: 13/01/2014

Date deposited: 17/04/2014

ISSN (print): 1878-9293

ISSN (electronic): 1878-9307

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.dcn.2013.12.006


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