Correlates of Memory
Development in the First Year
Charles A. Nelson University of Minnesota
Despite the tremendous gains that have been made recently in examining the relation between brain and memory in the adult human and monkey, relatively little progress has been made in studying the ontogeny of this relation (for some exceptions, see Bachevalier, 1990, 1992; Diamond, 1990; Nelson, 1995). This is unfortunate, for two reasons. First, the study of development is important in and of itself. Second, the study of development has important implications for understanding adult functioning. Assuming the first premise is self-evident, let me elaborate on the second. The argument has been made that studying memory impairment in the human adult and inducing memory deficits in the monkey may provide methods of converging operations on the study of normal memory (e.g., Mishkin & Appenzeller, 1987; Squire, 1986, 1987). In both cases, it is assumed that when a particular brain structure has been manipulated (as a result of disease or an induced lesion), changes that occur in the resulting function can provide insight into the importance of the manipulated structure. A developmental approach, on the other hand, provides for the ability to study how the elements of a memory system are assembled at the outset and to assess each element's contribution to that system. Such a prospective view has the singular advantage of being able to monitor in "real time" how the mature organism was formed, thus simplifying the task of analyzing how the components of the system interact.
Given all we have to gain by studying development, the question arises as to why so little is known about the neural foundations underlying early memory. The most obvious answer has been the sheer difficulty of studying an organism that is incapable of talking, responding motorically, or sitting