Differential effects of emotional valence on mnemonic performance with greater hippocampal maturity

The hippocampal formation (HF) facilitates declarative memory, with subfields providing unique contributions to memory performance. Maturational differences across subfields facilitate a shift toward increased memory specificity, with peripuberty sitting at the inflection point. Peripuberty is also a sensitive period in the development of anxiety disorders. We believe HF development during puberty is critical to negative overgeneralization, a common feature of anxiety disorders. To investigate this claim, we examined the relationship between mnemonic generalization and a cross-sectional pubertal maturity index (PMI) derived from partial least squares correlation (PLSC) analyses of subfield volumes and structural connectivity from T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted scans, respectively. Participants aged 9–14 yr, from clinical and community sources, performed a recognition task with emotionally valent (positive, negative, and neutral) images. HF volumetric PMI was positively associated with generalization for negative images. Hippocampal–medial prefrontal cortex connectivity PMI evidenced a behavioral relationship similar to that of the HF volumetric approach. These findings reflect a novel developmentally related balance between generalization behavior supported by the hippocampus and its connections with other regions, with maturational differences in this balance potentially contributing to negative overgeneralization during peripuberty.
Funding Information
  • National Institutes of Mental Health (MH116005)

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