• Hippocampal Circuit and Code for Cognition

  • About

    Established within the Brain Imaging Centre of the Research Centre for Natural Sciences in Budapest, Hungary, and generously funded by the National Research, Development, and Innovation Office (Grant FK128648), the Hippocampal Circuit and Code for Cognition Lab (HCCCL) strives to understand how the hippocampus and its networks support and implement human memory and cognition across the lifespan.

  • Research

    Development of the hippocampus across the lifespan

    Cutting-edge high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (hr-MRI) of the living human hippocampus offers an unprecedented window on the development of this intricate brain structure. We exploit hr-MRI together with experimental methods to understand the relationship between changes in the hippocampus and in human cognition across the lifespan.

    The hippocampus is the "new prefrontal cortex"

    The hippocampus is not only responsible for laying down long-term memories.

    Instead, this complex structure implements various mechanisms that participate in a multitude of cognitive processes.

    What are these mechanisms and how do they contribute to cognition? Through our research, we aim to provide some answers to these questions.

  • Research highlights


    Longitudinal Developmental Trajectories Do Not Follow Cross-Sectional Age Associations in Hippocampal Subfield and Memory Development

    Keresztes, A., Raffington, L., Bender, A. R., Bögl, K., Heim, C., & Shing, Y. L. (2022).

    In a study including 109 healthy children aged 6-10 years, we found that cross-sectional age-associations and longitudinal developmental trends in hippocampal subfield volumes were highly discrepant, both by subfields and in direction. For instance, as shown here in the picture on the left CA1-2 volumes showed positive volume-age associations but negative change across a two-year interval. This study underscores that children’s structural brain development and its relationship to cognition cannot be inferred from cross-sectional age comparisons.

    Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2022.101085

    Hair cortisol concentrations are associated with hippocampal subregional volumes in children

    Keresztes, A., Raffington, L., Bender, A. R., Bögl, K., Heim, C., & Shing, Y. L. (2020).

    The human hippocampus, crucial for memory across the lifespan, is highly sensitive to adverse life events. Stress exposures during childhood have been linked to altered hippocampal structure and memory performance in adulthood. So far, only few pediatric studies have examined glucocorticoid associations with hippocampal subfield volumes and their functional relevance. This article assessed whether volumes of hippocampal subregions were related to cumulative glucocorticoid levels (hair cortisol), parenting stress, and performance on memory tasks known to engage the hippocampus.

    Doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-61131-x

  • News



    Alex presented his poster at ESCOP 2022, entitled "Age-related differences in mnemonic discrimination of semantically similar adjective-noun phrases". This was our lab's first preregistered project on OSF. Check out the full poster here!



    Attila received the Bolyai János Research Scholarship awarded by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to encourage and recognize the work of outstanding young researchers. It is one of the most prestigious awards for scientific work.



    Our lab’s work was featured in Attila’s talk at the Hippocampal Subfields Group's 2022 Webinar Series. The talk is now available here.



    New paper just out in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience: "Longitudinal Developmental Trajectories Do Not Follow Cross-Sectional Age Associations in Hippocampal Subfield and Memory Development". It's open access here.



    We are joining forces with the ELTE Babylab to start a 3-year longitudinal investigation of memory development in 4–6-year-olds – the Neural Underpinnings of Memory Ontogeny (NeMO) study is set to start in 2022 in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.



    Our lab participated in the European Researchers' Night. Check out our dedicated content (Hungarian only) here.



    Our student research assistant, Hunor won a 4-year PhD scholarship from Eötvös Loránd University. He will pursue his PhD in our lab studying the relation between pattern completion and pattern separation in early childhood.



    New preprint just out! Check it in the 'Research highlights section', or click here for the full read!



    Zsuzsa will present her poster at CNS 2021 virtual (March 13–16) on March 14, entitled "A Strong Test of Content-Specific Pattern Separation via Distinct Medial Temporal Pathways".



    HCCCL kicked off as an official Max Planck Partner Group this February with 3 new members joining the lab.



    Our student research assistant, Alex won a 4-year PhD scholarship from Eötvös Loránd University. He will pursue his PhD in our lab studying hippocampal computations supporting knowledge acquisition across the lifespan.



    HCCCL is partnering with the Center for Lifespan Psychology of the Max Planck Institute of Human Development in Berlin, Germany, becoming a Max Planck Partner Group between 2021-2025.



    HCCCL has its first PhD student: Zsuzsanna Nemecz. Tianyao Zhu has also joined HCCCL as a student volunteer. Welcome!



    Our research was featured at the BCCCD conference hosted by the CEU in Budapest. Great conference for developmental psychologists!



    HCCCL kicks-off at the Brain Imaging Centre of the Research Centre for Natural Sciences in the beautiful city of Budapest, Hungary.

  • The HCCCL team

    We are recruiting!

    Attila Keresztes, PhD

    Principal Investigator

    Attila recently wrapped up his postdoctoral years at the Centre for Lifespan Psychology (led by Prof. Ulman Lindenberger) of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. There he worked in the Cognitive and Neural Dynamics of Memory Across the Lifespan group led by Dr. Markus Werkle-Bergner, Dr. Yee Lee Shing, and Dr. Myriam Sander. Prior to his post-doc, Attila had been first trained as an experimental psychologist at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, and then received his PhD in psychology and cognitive neuroscience from the Department of Cognitive Science at Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary in 2014.

    Alex Ilyés

    PhD Student

    Alex is ja second year PhD at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. He is working with HCCCL on a study of lifespan development of memory functions. In his PhD thesis, he will investigate the contribution of pattern separation to semantic memory processes. Alex completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s studies at ELTE, where he worked under the supervision of Bálint Forgács, PhD. They developed a stimuli set and completed an EEG study examining processes underlying figurative language comprehension and the understanding of novel metaphors. Alex is broadly interested in language, memory and the neural processes underlying cognitive abilities.

    Zsuzsanna Nemecz

    PhD Student

    Zsuzsanna is a second year PhD at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest (ELTE). She is working on lifespan development of memory functions and changes of hippocampal networks in aging. Zsuzsanna completed her undergraduate studies in psychology at ELTE, and obtained her Master’s Degree in cognitive neuroscience at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. Her main interests are hippocampal computations, cognition in young and old age, and increasing the ecological validity of stimuli in cognitive science. She is currently teaching an Experimental Research Methods seminar for undergraduate psychology students.

    Hunor Kis

    PhD Student

    Hunor started his PhD at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest in 2021. His project with HCCCL aims to understand how pattern completion and pattern separation development shapes memory in early childhood. Hunor completed his Bachelor’s and Master's studies at ELTE, where he had studied the interplay between categorization and semantic memory. Hunor is keen on enriching our understanding of human memory by integrating novel neurocognitive models and traditional psychological concepts of memory.

    Virág Anna Varga

    Student Research Assistant

    Virág has recently finished her BA studies and is pursuing her MA in Cognitive Psychology at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. In her BA thesis, she examined age-differences in associations between hippocampal pattern separation and anxiety. She is currently also working on a cross-cultural study on the effects of digital and non-digital fiction formats on empathic abilities.

    Dóra Bodócs

    Student Research Assistant

    Dóri is currently studying in the Psychology Bachelor’s program of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. She is interested in developmental cognitive psychology, and especially in the development of memory and knowledge. She has joined the lab to broaden her understanding of cognitive neuroscience in general, and more specifically to study the neural mechanism underlying memory development. Dóri is also a member of the Illyés Sándor College for Advanced Studies.

    Lilla Barbarics

    Student Research Assistant

    Lilla is finishing her BSc studies at Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) as a biochemical engineer. She started learning about human memory in 2021, when she joined our lab as a volunteer and instantly became enthusiastic about cognitive science in general. She writes her thesis about depression and its association with hippocampal integrity and memory. She would like to continue exploring the mechanisms of memory formation during her future studies at a Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience MSc program.

    Patrícia Dávid

    Student Research Assistant

    Patrícia started her MA in Cognitive Psychology at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest in 2021. In her BA thesis, she looked at the relationship between pattern separation, age and lifestyle. Her broad research interest is the development of memory processes in early childhood, more specifically the development of neural processes that allow encoding of episodic information. She is also greatly enthusiastic about science communication and regularly contributes to such projects.

    Bori Brosig

    Student Research Assistant

    Bori is finishing her BA studies at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. She is also studying Japanese Studies. She is eager to learn research and data analysis methods and deepen her understanding of cognitive science in general. By merging her current studies with the skills acquired in the lab, she would like to investigate cognitive linguistics, especially cross-cultural language processing in the future.

    Lili Kerekes

    Student Research Assistant

    Lili is a third year Psychology student of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE)'s Bachelor's program. She is interested in the usage of functional MRI in psychology, and tremendously enjoys learning about the phases of research. She is most excited to learn about all the ways she can contribute to research and science, and later on hopes to use the skills acquired in schizophrenia and epilepsy research.

    Borbála Paulik


    Borbála finished her undergraduate studies at the University of Szeged (SZTE) and her Master’s in psychology at Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest in 2021. She is currently working with Alex Ilyés investigating the relationship between semantic memory processes and pattern separation. She is more broadly interested in the neural processes underlying language and memory.

    Zoé Börtsök

    Student Volunteer

    Zoé is currently in the final year of the Psychology Bachelor’s Program at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. She is interested in cognitive neuroscience, especially the application of brain imaging techniques in psychology and the development of human memory. She has joined the lab to gain conceptual knowledge and acquire skills necessary to pursue research in the field of cognitive sciences.

    This may be your position

    Contact us!

    Connect with us if you're interested in working with us as a student research assistant, intern, or if you would like to do a PhD with us!

  • Alumni

    Anna Kispál

    Student Research Assistant

    Anna is currently doing a PhD at the Central European University, now in Vienna.

    Tianyao Zhu

    Student Volunteer

    Tianyao is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Queens.

    Tamás Szűcs

    Student Research Assistant

    Tomi is currently studying in the cognitive psychology master’s program of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest

    Ágota Vass

    Student Research Assistant

    Ágota is currently pursuing her PhD at  Semmelweis University, Budapest.

  • Publications

    Key publications



    Keresztes, A., Raffington, L., Bender, A. R., Bögl, K., Heim, C., & Shing, Y. L. (2022). Longitudinal developmental trajectories do not follow cross-sectional age associations in hippocampal subfield and memory development. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 54, 101085. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2022.101085 


    Keresztes, A., Raffington, L., Bender, A. R., Bögl, K., Heim, C., & Shing, Y. L. (2020). Hair cortisol concentrations are associated with hippocampal subregional volumes in children. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-12. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-61131-x


    Keresztes, A., Ngo, C. T., Lindenberger, U., Werkle-Bergner, M., & Newcombe, N. S. (2018). Hippocampal Maturation Drives Memory from Generalization to Specificity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 22 (8), 676-686. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.05.004


    Bender, A. R., Keresztes, A., Bodammer, N. C., Shing, Y. L., Werkle‐Bergner, M., Daugherty, A. M., ... & Raz, N. (2018). Optimization and validation of automated hippocampal subfield segmentation across the lifespan. Human Brain Mapping, 39 (2), 916-931. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23891


    Keresztes, A., Bender, A. R., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., Shing, Y. L., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2017). Hippocampal maturity promotes memory distinctiveness in childhood and adolescence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114 (34), 9212-9217. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1710654114


    Keresztes, A., Kaiser, D., Kovács, G., & Racsmány, M. (2013). Testing promotes long-term learning via stabilizing activation patterns in a large network of brain areas. Cerebral Cortex, 24 (11), 3025-3035. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht158


    Keresztes, A., & Racsmány, M. (2013). Interference resolution in retrieval-induced forgetting: Behavioral evidence for a nonmonotonic relationship between interference and forgetting. Memory & Cognition, 41 (4), 511-518. doi: 10.3758/s13421-012-0276-3

    Full publication list on google scholar

  • Résztvevőknek

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  • keresztes.attila.akk@ttk.hu

    +36 1 3826-903

  • Our host, the Research Centre for Natural Sciences is part of the Eötvös Loránd Research Network