Patients with developmental amnesia (DA) have severe difficulties remembering everyday events and episodes of their lives yet have relatively little difficulty learning factual information and world knowledge. The proposed project aims to test two hypotheses.
- The relatively preserved factual memory in DA is mediated by the intact parahippocampal region: we aim to measure entorhinal (EC), temporal pole (TPC) perirhinal (PRC), and posterior parahippocampal (PPHC) volumes in MRI scans of DA patients and matched controls. This type of volumetric measurement requires the prior identification of EC, TPC, PRC, and PPHC boundaries. These boundaries are typically localized by means of their topographic relationship with the hippocampus, but hippocampal volume reduction in DA hinders the localisation of landmarks chosen to draw EC, TPC, PRC, and PPHC boundaries. Therefore, we aim to determine diencepahlic landmarks to demarcate EC, TPC, PRC, and PPHC boundaries in histological preparations of human post-mortem brains, to then, measure their volumes in MRI scans of DA patients and matched controls.
- Hippocampal damage not only hinders explicit episodic memory in children with DA, but also incidental episodic memory (i.e. effortless unintentional storage of context -rich information about events). Incidental episodic memory is disrupted after both early and late hippocampal lesions in monkeys and in patients with adult-onset hippocampal damage. However, it is still unknown whether early hippocampal damage impairs this type of memory. We will use a novelty preferential viewing paradigm, i.e. the visual paired comparison task, which measures the subject's tendency to fixate longer on novel stimuli than on familiar ones.
The International Re-Integration Grant will contribute to enrich the applicant's expertise on memory research and will contribute to developing an independent research career investigating the function of the hippocampus in cognitive memory.
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