Étudiant-chercheur étoile April 2012

David Maillet

PhD student in Neurosciences
McGill University

Award-winning publication: Age-related changes in the three-way correlation between anterior hippocampus volume, whole-brain patterns of encoding activity and subsequent context retrieval

Published in: Brain Research, 1420 (2011), pages 68-79.


"Twenty-two young adults (18-35 years) and 21 older adults (60-80 years) completed three memory tasks during a session of functional magnetic resonance imaging. The aim of our study was to determine the interaction between volume loss in a key region of the brain (the hippocampus) during normal aging, the neural networks used by the two groups, and memory task performance."

It is an undeniable fact that the population in Québec and elsewhere in the world is aging. It is therefore imperative to understand why memory declines with age, in order to develop strategies to reduce or counteract this phenomenon and improve the quality of life of the older members of our society. David Maillet's study shows a correlation between two factors involved in memory decline during normal aging: hippocampal volume loss and the recruiting of distinct regions of the prefrontal cortex by older adults while learning. This research raises the possibility that it may not be necessary to develop different interventions to target these two changes in the brain; rather, it may be possible for a single intervention (physical activity, cognitive training) to treat both factors simultaneously by changing the functioning of several regions of the brain.