The genetics of episodic memory

Cogn Neuropsychiatry. 2009;14(4-5):356-76. doi: 10.1080/13546800902990438.


Introduction: Studies suggest that there is a considerable genetic contribution to individual episodic memory performance. Identifying genes which impact recollection may further elucidate an emerging biology and pave the way towards novel cognitive interventions. To date, several candidate genes have been explored and a few seem to have modest but measurable effects.

Methods: Here we review the biology of memory with particular focus on episodic memory, critically appraise the published evidence supporting the role of several candidate genes, and make suggestions for future pathways of research.

Results: We found moderate evidence for several candidate genes implicated in episodic memory formation, with converging lines of neurobiologic evidence especially strong for only a select few. Perhaps unexpectedly, little work has been done on other aspects of memory, including the semantic and autobiographical systems.

Conclusions: Larger studies utilizing more elaborate methodologies to measure the spectrum of episodic memory are required to move the field forward.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / genetics
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / genetics
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Receptors, Cannabinoid