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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 18;8(12):e82385. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082385. eCollection 2013.

Age-related changes in the functional network underlying specific and general autobiographical memory retrieval: a pivotal role for the anterior cingulate cortex.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Memory and Cognition, Université Paris Descartes, Boulogne-Billancourt, France ; Center of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, INSERM UMR S894, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France.
2
Department of Radiology, Université Paris Descartes, Centre de Psychiatrie et Neuroscience, INSERM U894, Paris, France.
3
Center of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, INSERM UMR S894, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France ; Laboratory of Physiopathology of Psychiatric Diseases, Centre Hospitalier Sainte Anne, Paris, France.
4
Laboratory of Memory and Cognition, Université Paris Descartes, Boulogne-Billancourt, France ; Center of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, INSERM UMR S894, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France ; Institut Universitaire de France.

Abstract

Age-related changes in autobiographical memory (AM) recall are characterized by a decline in episodic details, while semantic aspects are spared. This deleterious effect is supposed to be mediated by an inefficient recruitment of executive processes during AM retrieval. To date, contrasting evidence has been reported on the neural underpinning of this decline, and none of the previous studies has directly compared the episodic and semantic aspects of AM in elderly. We asked 20 young and 17 older participants to recall specific and general autobiographical events (i.e., episodic and semantic AM) elicited by personalized cues while recording their brain activity by means of fMRI. At the behavioral level, we confirmed that the richness of episodic AM retrieval is specifically impoverished in aging and that this decline is related to the reduction of executive functions. At the neural level, in both age groups, we showed the recruitment of a large network during episodic AM retrieval encompassing prefrontal, cortical midline and posterior regions, and medial temporal structures, including the hippocampus. This network was very similar, but less extended, during semantic AM retrieval. Nevertheless, a greater activity was evidenced in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) during episodic, compared to semantic AM retrieval in young participants, and a reversed pattern in the elderly. Moreover, activity in dACC during episodic AM retrieval was correlated with inhibition and richness of memories in both groups. Our findings shed light on the direct link between episodic AM retrieval, executive control, and their decline in aging, proposing a possible neuronal signature. They also suggest that increased activity in dACC during semantic AM retrieval in the elderly could be seen as a compensatory mechanism underpinning successful AM performance observed in aging. These results are discussed in the framework of recently proposed models of neural reorganization in aging.

PMID:
24367516
PMCID:
PMC3867357
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0082385
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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