Episodic autobiographical memory is associated with variation in the size of hippocampal subregions

Hippocampus. 2018 Feb;28(2):69-75. doi: 10.1002/hipo.22818. Epub 2018 Jan 6.


Striking individual differences exist in the human capacity to recollect past events, yet, little is known about the neural correlates of such individual differences. Studies investigating hippocampal volume in relation to individual differences in laboratory measures of episodic memory in young adults suggest that whole hippocampal volume is unrelated (or even negatively associated) with episodic memory. However, anatomical and functional specialization across hippocampal subregions suggests that individual differences in episodic memory may be linked to particular hippocampal subregions, as opposed to whole hippocampal volume. Given that the DG/CA2/3 circuitry is thought to be especially critical for supporting episodic memory in humans, we predicted that the volume of this region would be associated with individual variability in episodic memory. This prediction was supported using high-resolution MRI of the hippocampal subfields and measures of real-world (autobiographical) episodic memory. In addition to the association with DG/CA2/3 , we further observed a relationship between episodic autobiographical memory and subiculum volume, whereas no association was observed with CA1 or with whole hippocampal volume. These findings provide insight into the possible neural substrates that mediate individual differences in real-world episodic remembering in humans.

Keywords: episodic memory; hippocampal subfields; individual differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Individuality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Young Adult