Tracy Riggins

Hippocampal-memory network development and episodic memory in early childhood

Memory is a cornerstone ability upon which we build knowledge of ourselves and the world around us. Failures in memory, no matter how small, can significantly impact life success and mental health. A large body of research exists regarding the neural bases of memory in adults. In contrast, very few studies have examined neural mechanisms underlying memory development in early childhood. This is particularly unfortunate as behavioral research suggests this is a time of significant and rapid development in episodic memory. This gap is not only a limitation in scientific understanding but also a barrier to the development of intervention techniques that would facilitate or improve memory in those at risk for impairment. This presentation will describe empirical research examining changes in the structure and function of the hippocampally mediated episodic memory network during early childhood, when gains in episodic memory are greatest. 

About the Speaker
Tracy Riggins received her Ph.D. in child psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota in 2005. She completed postdoctoral fellowships in pediatric neuroimaging at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. The goal of her research program is to provide a better understanding of memory development by examining changes in neural substrates supporting this ability. The empirical research conducted in her laboratory involves children developing typically and children at risk for cognitive impairments and uses a combination of behavioral and neuroimaging methodologies. Findings from her research have revealed that early childhood is a time of rapid change in a child's ability to remember life events and the neural substrates supporting this type of memory.  Such systematic study of memory development in childhood has important implications not only for understanding memory in general, but will also provide critical information for targeted intervention and prevention strategies for populations at-risk for memory impairment.