Developmental change in prefrontal cortex recruitment supports the emergence of value-guided memory

Kate Nussenbaum, Catherine A. Hartley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Prioritizing memory for valuable information can promote adaptive behavior across the lifespan, but it is unclear how the neurocognitive mechanisms that enable the selective acquisition of useful knowledge develop. Here, using a novel task coupled with functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined how children, adolescents, and adults (N = 90) learn from experience what information is likely to be rewarding, and modulate encoding and retrieval processes accordingly. We found that the ability to use learned value signals to selectively enhance memory for useful information strengthened throughout childhood and into adolescence. Encoding and retrieval of high-vs. low-value information was associated with increased activation in striatal and prefrontal regions implicated in value processing and cognitive control. Age-related increases in value-based lateral prefrontal cortex modulation mediated the relation between age and memory selectivity. Our findings demonstrate that developmental increases in the strategic engagement of the prefrontal cortex support the emergence of adaptive memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere69796
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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