Cognitive control contributions to learning and memory: Lifespan development and neural plasticity
Affiliation: Center for Lifespan Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Abstract: Ensuring efficient learning and memory can be challenging: we need to select what and how to learn, acquire new skills and information so that they can be retrieved when needed, often in a new environment or after prolonged periods of time. Cognitive control processes play a critical role for scaffolding learning and memory by monitoring and regulating information processing in line with current goals and task demands. These processes are implemented by a core set of frontal and posterior parietal brain regions that undergo a relatively protracted development across childhood and adolescence, and decline in old age. I will first present studies examining developmental changes in monitoring and control processes, and their neural underpinnings. Our findings show that changes in cognitive control across childhood contribute to improvements in motor learning and episodic memory. I will outline ongoing work probing structural and functional aspects of neural plasticity of the cognitive control network in children. Finally, I will briefly highlight how senescent changes in cognitive control contribute to memory failures and increased susceptibility to false memory in old age. Together, these findings highlight the critical role of cognitive control in shaping learning and memory across the lifespan.