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Psychol Aging. 2002 Mar;17(1):56-71.

Differences in the functional neuroanatomy of inhibitory control across the adult life span.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and the Integrative Neuroscience Research Center, Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53201, USA.


Inhibitory control, the ability to suppress irrelevant or interfering stimuli, is a fundamental cognitive function that deteriorates during aging, but little is understood about the bases of decline. Thus, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study inhibitory control in healthy adults aged 18 to 78. Activation during "successful inhibition" occurred predominantly in right prefrontal and parietal regions and was more extensive, bilaterally and prefrontally, in the older groups. Presupplementary motor area was also more active in poorer inhibitory performers. Therefore, older adults activate areas that are comparable to those activated by young adults during inhibition, as well as additional regions. The results are consistent with a compensatory interpretation and extend the aging neuroimaging literature into the cognitive domain of inhibition.

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