Contextual features in the developing hippocampus: A representational similarity analysis

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January 2022



CLI Author:

Dana DeMaster, PhD


Functional divisions of labor in support of memory have been reported along the anterior–posterior axis of the hippocampus. However, little is known about how the developing hippocampus represents associative memories along this axis. The present research employed representational similarity analysis to ask whether developmental differences exist in the extent to which the anterior versus the posterior hippocampus represent features of the context and associative memories. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected during the retrieval phase of an associative recognition task from 8-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and adults (N = 58). Participants were asked to retrieve pairs of items, which were presented either in the same location as during encoding or in a flipped location. In the anterior hippocampus and only for adults, pattern similarity between the two studied pair conditions was greater than pattern similarity between studied pairs presented in the same location and novel pairs. In contrast, this difference was not significant in the posterior hippocampus. Older, but not younger, children showed a similar, albeit attenuated, similarity pattern to that of adults, but measures of patterns similarity predicted associative recognition across ages. In addition, exploratory analyses showed that similarity patterns in the adult posterior, but not anterior, hippocampus tracked the order of the runs. Overall, the results suggest functional and developmental dissociations in processing different contextual features, with the anterior hippocampus responding to salient and rapid-changing features and the posterior hippocampus responding to slower-changing features of the context.


Kazemi, Alireza & Coughlin, Christine & Demaster, Dana & Ghetti, Simona. (2022). Contextual features in the developing hippocampus: A representational similarity analysis. Hippocampus. 32. 10.1002/hipo.23405.