Developmental differences in the neural correlates of relational encoding and recall in children: An event-related fMRI study

O. Evren Güler, Kathleen M. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Despite vast knowledge on the behavioral processes mediating the development of episodic memory, little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying these changes. We used event-related fMRI to examine the neural correlates of both encoding and recall processes during an episodic memory task in two different groups of school age children (8-9 and 12-13 years). The memory task was composed of an encoding phase in which children were presented with a series of unrelated pictorial pairs, and a retrieval phase during which one of these items acted as a cue to prompt recall of the paired item. Age-related differences in activations were observed for both encoding and recall. Younger children recruited additional regions in the right dorsolateral prefrontal and right temporal cortex compared to older children during successful encoding of the pairs. During successful recall, older children recruited additional regions in the left ventrolateral prefrontal and left inferior parietal cortex compared to younger children. The results suggest that the prefrontal cortex contributes to not only the formation of memories but also access to them, and this contribution changes with development. The protracted development of the prefrontal cortex has implications for our understanding of the development of episodic memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)106-116
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this research was provided by a research grant from the Center for Neurobehavioral Development at the University of Minnesota , postdoctoral training fellowship to the first author ( NIH MH73129 ) and the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at the University of Minnesota ( NIH BTRR-P41 RR008079, P30NS057091 , and the MIND Institute ). The authors also thank the children and families that so generously gave of their time to make the work possible. Portions of these data were presented at the annual meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, June 2010.


  • Children
  • Episodic memory development
  • Event-related fMRI
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Relational memory


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