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Constructive memory

The creation of personal, episodic memory from a previous experience is a remarkably complex process. The act of remembering an episodic event is as much an act of creation as an act of reproduction.

About the project

Recent research has shown that recall of episodes and imagination of the future depends on a common core brain network. Early damage to this network will dramatically affect the development of personal memories. This will prevent the creation of a vivid personal past, while leaving general cognitive development relatively intact. Still, no attempts have been made to study how development and subsequent aging of constructive memory, the arguably most relevant form of memory for daily life-function, is determined by structural and functional properties of the brain. The project studies how characteristics of the brain determine the development of the ability to form episodic memories in childhood, and how the same factors contribute to the decline in episodic memory function experienced by most healthy elderly. The project is funded by European Research Council Starting Grant.


The aim is to understand how maturation and aging of the brain-networks for reconstructive memory impacts the ability to form and re-experience one’s past. To address this aim, we will study children (4-10 years), adolescents (11-19 years), young adults (20-30 years) and elderly (60-80 years), 100 participants in each group, with repeated cognitive testing and brain scanning with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The children will be examined annually, yielding four examinations, while the other participants will be examined bi-annually, yielding two examinations within the project period.

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Project full title: Emergence and decline of constructive memory – Life-span changes in a common brain network for imagination and episodic memory.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 283634.

Published July 1, 2013 2:59 PM - Last modified Nov. 22, 2016 10:58 AM


Principal investigator

Professor Anders M Fjell

Project type

Starting Grant 2011

ERC funding

EUR 1,499,088.00

Project duration

60 months

Start date

1 February 2012