ISSN: 1899-0967
Polish Journal of Radiology
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vol. 88
Original paper

The impact of studying on the hippocampal volume in medical students and its correlation with the results of the Final Medical Examination: a single-centre, prospective observational cohort study

Jakub Marek
Edyta Maj
Olga Katarzyna Przybyla
Witold Skrzynski
Katarzyna Pasicz
Ewa Fabiszewska
Andrzej Pruszynski
Olgierd Rowinski

Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
2nd Department of Clinical Radiology, Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
Department of Medical Physics, Maria Sklodowska-Curie National Research Institute of Oncology, Warsaw, Poland
© Pol J Radiol 2023; 88: e22-e30
Online publish date: 2023/01/16
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The hippocampus forms part of the limbic system and is involved in the learning process; it is responsible for transferring information from short-term to long-term memory. The aim of our study was to assess the effect of intensive studying on hippocampal volume and whether this correlates with exam results.

Material and methods
The analysis included volunteer final-year medical students who underwent 2 volumetric 3D T1 magnetic resonance imaging scans with an interval of 20 weeks: 19 weeks before and one week after the Final Medi­cal Examination. FreeSurfer software was used to compare the volumes of the whole hippocampus and its subfields between the 2 measurements. We assessed correlations between changes in hippocampal volume and the time students spent studying, between changes in hippocampal volume and the results of the exam, and between time spent studying and exam results.

Forty participants (25 women and 15 men; mean age 25 years) were included in the analysis. The right hippocampus presubiculum area increased significantly over the study period (p = 0.029), whereas the volume of the left hippocampus remained unchanged. An increase in the volume of the right hippocampus correlated with longer study time (r = 0.371 in percentage and r = 0.397 in mm3) and better LEK exam results (r = 0.441 in percentage and r = 0.456 in mm3).

Our research confirms the role of the hippocampus, particularly the subicular complex, in the process of learning and remembering, and suggest that the plastic abilities of the hippocampus depend on the intensity of learning and translate into better skills.


brain, volume, hippocampus, brain plasticity, intensive learning

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