Emergence and decline of constructive memory – Lifespan changes in a common brain network for imagination and episodic memory
Recent research has shown that recall of episodes and imagination of the future depends on a common core brain network. Early damage to this network will dramatically affect the development of personal memories. This will prevent the creation of a vivid personal past, while leaving general cognitive development relatively intact. Still, no attempts have been made to study how development and subsequent aging of constructive memory, the arguably most relevant form of memory for daily life-function, is determined by structural and functional properties of the brain. The project studies how characteristics of the brain determine the development of the ability to form episodic memories in childhood, and how the same factors contribute to the decline in episodic memory function experienced by most healthy elderly.
Cognitive decline in aging seems inevitable, but its extent is not. Older adults` brains and cognition vary widely. Recently it has been recognized that late-life functional variation is influenced by factors present in development. It is insufficient to search for mechanisms in old age to understand determinants of healthy aging.