Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Direct brain recordings reveal prefrontal cortex dynamics of memory development

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Science Advances  19 Dec 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 12, eaat3702
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat3702

Abstract

Prevailing theories link prefrontal cortex (PFC) maturation to the development of declarative memory. However, the precise spatiotemporal correlates of memory formation in the developing brain are not known. We provide rare intracranial evidence that the spatiotemporal propagation of frontal activity supports memory formation in children. Seventeen subjects (6.2 to 19.4 years) studied visual scenes in preparation for a recognition memory test while undergoing direct cortical monitoring. Earlier PFC activity predicted greater accuracy, and subsecond deviations in activity flow between subregions predicted memory formation. Activity flow between inferior and precentral sites was refined during adolescence, partially explaining gains in memory. In contrast, middle frontal activity predicted memory independent of age. These findings show with subsecond temporal precision that the developing PFC links scene perception and memory formation and underscore the role of the PFC in supporting memory development.

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