Episodic memory function is known to decline in the course of normal aging; however, compensatory techniques can improve performance significantly in older persons. We investigated the effects of the memory enhancing technique of repetition encoding on brain activation using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Twelve healthy older adults without cognitive impairment were studied with fMRI during repetitive encoding of face–name pairs. During the first encoding trials of face–name pairs that were subsequently remembered correctly, activation of the hippocampus and multiple neocortical regions, including prefrontal, parietal and fusiform cortices, was observed. The second and third encoding trials resulted in continued activation in neocortical regions, but no task-related response within the hippocampus. Functional imaging of successful memory processes thus permits us to detect regionally specific responses in the aging brain. Our findings suggest that hippocampal function is preserved in normal aging and that repetition-based memory enhancing techniques may engage primarily neocortical attentional networks.
Neurobiology of Aging – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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