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Conte Colloquium

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"The infantile amnesia paradox: a critical period of learning to learn and remember"

Cristina Alberini, PhD
Professor, Center for Neural Science
New York University


Infantile amnesia, the inability of adults to recollect early episodic memories, is associated with the rapid forgetting that occurs in early development. It has been suggested that infantile amnesia is due to the underdevelopment of the infant brain, resulting in an inability to consolidate memories, or to deficits in memory retrieval. On the other hand, early-life events, especially neglect or aversive experiences, greatly impact adult behavior and may predispose individuals to various psychopathologies. Thus, it is unclear how a brain that rapidly forgets, or is not yet able to form long-term memories, can exert such a long-lasting and important influence.  I will discuss recent data from my laboratory indicating that the hippocampal memory system is highly active during infancy and recruits special biological mechanisms that may explain the paradox of infantile amnesia.  These results lead us to propose that infantile amnesia reflects a developmental critical period during which the learning system is learning how to learn and remember.

TUESDAY April 11, 2017 at 4:30 pm
The Biological Lab, Room 1080
16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge

Free and open to the public

Earlier Event: March 28
Conte Colloquium
Later Event: April 25
Conte Colloquium