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Does hippocampal volume explain performance differences on hippocampal-dependant tasks?
Ian A. Clark , Anna M. Monk , Victoria Hotchin , Gloria Pizzamiglio, Alice Liefgreen, Martina F. Callaghan , Eleanor A. Maguire
NeuroImage, Volume: 221, Start page: 117211
Swansea University Author: Alice Liefgreen
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DOI (Published version): 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117211
Marked disparities exist across healthy individuals in their ability to imagine scenes, recall autobiographical memories, think about the future and navigate in the world. The importance of the hippocampus in supporting these critical cognitive functions has prompted the question of whether differen...
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Marked disparities exist across healthy individuals in their ability to imagine scenes, recall autobiographical memories, think about the future and navigate in the world. The importance of the hippocampus in supporting these critical cognitive functions has prompted the question of whether differences in hippocampal grey matter volume could be one source of performance variability. Evidence to date has been somewhat mixed. In this study we sought to mitigate issues that commonly affect these types of studies. Data were collected from a large sample of 217 young, healthy adult participants, including whole brain structural MRI data (0.8 mm isotropic voxels) and widely-varying performance on scene imagination, autobiographical memory, future thinking and navigation tasks. We found little evidence that hippocampal grey matter volume was related to task performance in this healthy sample. This was the case using different analysis methods (voxel-based morphometry, partial correlations), when whole brain or hippocampal regions of interest were examined, when comparing different sub-groups (divided by gender, task performance, self-reported ability), and when using latent variables derived from across the cognitive tasks. Hippocampal grey matter volume may not, therefore, significantly influence performance on tasks known to require the hippocampus in healthy people. Perhaps only in extreme situations, as in the case of licensed London taxi drivers, are measurable ability-related hippocampus volume changes consistently exhibited.
Hippocampal volume; Scene construction; Autobiographical memory; Future thinking; Spatial navigation; Individual differences
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
The authors were supported by a Wellcome Principal Research Fellowship to E.A. Maguire (101759/Z/13/Z) and the Centre by a Strategic Award from Wellcome (203147/Z/16/Z).