Frontal Recruitment During Response Inhibition in Older Adults Replicated With fMRI


Recent research has explored age-related differences in multiple areas of cognitive functioning using fMRI, PET, and SPECT. However, because these studies used different tasks, subjects, and methods, little is known about whether the results of these studies are generalizable or repeatable. The present study replicated a previous study [Psychol. Aging 17 (2002) 56] using the same Go/No-go task with a subset of 11 of the original older adult subjects, and using the same fMRI scanner and imaging methods. A direct comparison was made between these participants at Time 1 and Time 2 for both behavioral and functional data. These participants were also compared to a new young adult group of 11 participants. Although the current young adult group did not perform as well as the original young adult group, the original finding of enhanced left prefrontal activation in older adults relative to younger adults was replicated. Furthermore, when comparing Time 1 to Time 2, older adults exhibited comparable areas of activation, but significantly greater magnitude of activation at Time 1 in a few clusters. The findings indicate that older adults exhibit more bilateral brain activity during this task than young adults, which appears compensatory and is repeatable over time. The magnitude of regional activation, however, may vary with extraneuronal factors such as signal-to-noise ratio or task experience. This study adds to existing research suggesting that bilateral frontal activation is a predominant finding in the aging literature, and not specific to certain tasks in age group comparisons

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