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Neuroimage. 1998 Nov;8(4):409-25.

Age-related changes in regional cerebral blood flow during working memory for faces.

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Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care, Rotman Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Young and old adults underwent positron emission tomography during the performance of a working memory task for faces (delayed match-to-sample), in which the delay between the sample and choice faces was varied from 1 to 21 s. Reaction time was slower and accuracy lower in the old group, but not markedly so. Values of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) were analyzed for sustained activity across delay conditions, as well as for changes as delay increased. Many brain regions showed similar activity during these tasks in both young and old adults, including left anterior prefrontal cortex, which had increased rCBF with delay, and ventral extrastriate cortex, which showed decreased rCBF with delay. However, old adults had less activation overall and less modulation of rCBF across delay in right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex than did the young adults. Old adults also showed greater rCBF activation in left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex across all WM delays and increased rCBF at short delays in left occipitoparietal cortex compared to young adults. Activity in many of these regions was differentially related to performance in that it was associated with decreasing response times in the young group and increasing response times in the older individuals. Thus despite the finding that performance on these memory tasks and associated activity in a number of brain areas are relatively preserved in old adults, differences elsewhere in the brain suggest that different strategies or cognitive processes are used by the elderly to maintain memory representations over short periods of time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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