Poster A88, Saturday, March 25, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Predicting Individual Differences in Learning and Memory By Measuring Limbic White Matter
Athanasia Metoki1, Kylie H. Alm1, Yin Wang1, Ingrid R. Olson1; 1Temple University, Department of Psychology
Some people can easily remember details of their high school graduation, while other people have only vague impressions of this milestone event. Individual differences in memory contribute to disparities in social expertise and academic performance. Here, we asked whether variation in a limbic white matter tract, the uncinate fasciculus (UF), accounts for variation in learning and memory. We tested two hypotheses: (1) That the UF is involved in associative but not non-associative memory; and (2) that a subregion of the UF, the “face-specific UF”, defined by its connectivity between face patches in the anterior temporal lobe and orbitofrontal cortex, specifically contributes to associative memory for faces. Healthy young adults performed three tasks: in Exp. 1, they learned to associate common names with highly similar faces; in Exp. 2, they learned to associate uncommon names with highly dissimilar faces; and in Exp. 3, item and associative memory for word lists were tested. Diffusion tensor imaging and deterministic tractography were performed. Results revealed that microstructure of the whole UF predicted individual differences in performance on both face-name tasks (25% and 38% of the variance, respectively), directly replicating prior results. Whole UF microstructure also predicted variability on the word association task (20% of the variance). In contrast, connectivity in the face-specific UF selectively predicted face-name learning (40% of the variance). These findings suggest that the UF may be essential for associative memory, while a face-selective subregion of the UF is involved more specifically in memory for social stimuli.
Topic Area: LONG-TERM MEMORY: Episodic