Adult age differences in the functional neuroanatomy of verbal recognition memory.
Adult age differences are frequently observed in the performance of memory tasks, but the changes in neural function mediating these differences are largely unknown. We used (H2)15O positron emission tomography (PET) to measure changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during Encoding, Baseline, and Retrieval conditions of a recognition memory task. Twelve young adults (20-29 years) and 12 older adults (62-79 years) participated. During each task condition, participants made a two-choice manual response to each of 64 words. Analyses of the performance data yielded evidence of age-related slowing of encoding and retrieval processes, and an age-related decline in the accuracy of yes/no recognition (d'). The rCBF activation associated with both encoding and retrieval was greater for older adults than for young adults, but this pattern was more clearly evident for memory retrieval. For young adults, rCBF activation during retrieval occurred primarily in right prefrontal cortex, whereas older adults exhibited a more bilateral pattern of prefrontal activation. Regression analyses predicting reaction time in the memory task from regional PET counts confirmed that the neural system mediating memory retrieval is more widely distributed for older adults than for young adults. Both age groups exhibited some decrease in rCBF activation in the second half of the test session, relative to the first half. The practice-related decrease in rCBF activation was more prominent for young adults, suggesting that the older adults' recruitment of additional neural systems reflects a more continual allocation of attention to support task performance.
Madden, DJ; Turkington, TG; Provenzale, JM; Denny, LL; Hawk, TC; Gottlob, LR; Coleman, RE
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