Date of Award
Master of Science (MSc)
Over long delays between events, evidence from computational models suggests that neurogenesis may be important for reducing the potential of interference between overlapping memories. These computational models also suggest that at shorter time scales, within a single memory episode, neurogenesis may play a role in binding together elements that share a common spatiotemporal context. Empirical evidence from animal research provides support for both of these hypothesized roles. Interestingly, results from recent research also suggest that depending on the task demands, neurogenesis may either aid or hinder performance.
In order to investigate this potential trade-o, we designed the Concentration Memory Task (CMT); a novel spatial memory task which subjected participants to trials where neurogenesis is hypothesized to aid performance and trials where neurogenesis is hypothesized to hinder performance. Furthermore, we tested undergraduates on this novel task and memory tests from the CANTAB battery, and administered neuropsychological mood inventories and a lifestyle questionnaire.
Our results suggest that measures on the CMT hypothesized to be dependent upon neurogenesis correlate with and predict performance on putatively neurogenesis-dependent tasks. Furthermore, individuals with potentially suppressed neurogenesis display selective decits on these measures. However, our results failed to provide evidence for a working memory enhancement in these individuals.
The results from the present study provide strong encouragement for the continued development of this novel task. We provide evidence that as predicted, individuals with potentially suppressed neurogenesis display increased sensitivity to interference on the CMT. However, we failed to provide evidence that suppressed neurogenesis may enhance working memory performance. This null result may be due to shortcomings in the design of the CMT and a revised protocol that may resolve these shortcomings is discussed. With continued development, the CMT may serve as a tool for detecting early signs of cognitive impairment associated with suppressed neurogenesis.
Pilgrim, Malcolm, "THE EFFECT OF LIFESTYLE FACTORS ON POTENTIAL MEASURES OF NEUROGENESIS AND THE BEHAVIOURAL IMPLICATIONS" (2013). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7596.
McMaster University Library