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Despite considerable information gained on the capacity of
newborns to learn and remember under a variety of conditions, little is known
on the neural basis of memory processes in early infancy. This paper review
recent studies in non-human primates demonstrating that memory comprises multiple
systems that are subserved by different neural systems developing at different
time points in early infancy. Thus, the procedural memory system mediated by
the striatum and cerebellum is present at birth and reaches functional maturity
in the first postnatal months. By contract, the declarative memory system mediated
by the hippocampal formation and the working memory system mediated by the dorsolateral
prefrontal cortex have a more protracted development, reaching functional maturity
around one year of age for the former and three years of age for the later.
Given the many similarities in the developmental time course of memory processes
and neural systems in humans and monkeys, the experimental findings have important
implication for our understanding of the development of memory functions and
their neural substrates in humans.