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19 November 2021 - 19 November 2021

1:00PM - 2:00PM


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This seminar is hosted by the Psychology Department at Durham University

As we navigate, we build spatial maps of our environment. When we move to a new city, we learn routes from our new home to the grocery store. On the first trip, a wrong turn, down a wrong street may mean back tracking to reach the goal. But after multiple trips, we can update our navigation to a more efficient path based on the previously learned relationships between landmarks, streets and locations. The medial temporal lobe is central to building a map of our environment. Together, the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, parrahippocampal cortex and retrosplenial cortex form a network of brain regions that represent the relationships between objects, landmarks and locations, which are refined across multiple navigational experiences.Behaviourally, children are less proficient at spatial navigation then adults and acquire coarser maps of their world. This may be due to the functional immaturity of the medial temporal lobe.

Here, I will talk about my postdoctoral work that identified age-related differences in the neurocognitive mechanisms that guide spatial memory representation. Children (6-12 years) and adults (18-33years) completed a virtual navigation task by learning the locations of objects within a virtual arena.

Our findings indicate functional development of the medial temporal lobe circuit underlies age-related differences in spatial memory performance. In particular, we found that feedback-based medial temporal lobe learning signals that support iterative refinement of spatial representations are not functionally mature in childhood. These findings indicate that the functional development of these spatial mapping regions plays a key role in age-related differences in spatial memory precision.