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Improvement of allocentric spatial memory resolution in children from 2 to 4 years of age.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Ribordy Lambert Farfalla, Lavenex Pierre, Banta Lavenex Pamela,
Project The development of spatial relational memory in children.
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal International Journal of Behavioral Development
Title of proceedings International Journal of Behavioral Development


Allocentric spatial memory, the memory for locations coded in relation to the objects comprising our environment, is a fundamental component of episodic memory and is dependent on the integrity of the hippocampal formation in adulthood. Previous research from different laboratories reported that basic allocentric spatial memory abilities are reliably observed in children after two years of age. We had proposed that the functional maturation of direct projections from the entorhinal cortex to the CA1 field of the hippocampus underlies the emergence of basic allocentric spatial memory. We also proposed that the slow and protracted development of the dentate gyrus and its projections to the CA3 field of the hippocampus might underlie the development of more elaborate, high-resolution allocentric spatial memory capacities, based on the essential contribution of these structures to the process known as pattern separation. Here, we present the results of a multi-stage experiment designed to assess the development of spatial pattern separation capacities and its impact on allocentric spatial memory performance in children from 18 to 48 months of age. We found that: (1) allocentric spatial memory performance improved with age, (2) a greater number of children older than 36 months advanced to the stage requiring the highest degree of spatial resolution, and (3) children that failed at intermediate stages exhibited difficulty in discriminating locations that required high spatial resolution/pattern separation abilities. These results provide further credence to the theory that the differential maturation of distinct hippocampal circuits contributes to the ontogeny of distinct memory processes in humans.