Effects of age on the neural correlates of encoding source and item information: An fMRI study

E. Song Liu, Mingzhu Hou, Joshua D. Koen, Michael D. Rugg

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The effects of age on encoding-related neural activity predictive of accurate item and source memory judgments were examined with fMRI, with an a priori focus of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and hippocampus. During a scanned study phase, young and older adults viewed a series of pictures of objects and made one of two judgments on each object. At test, which occurred outside of the scanner, an ‘old/new’ judgment on each test item was followed, for those items endorsed old, by a source judgment querying the study task. Neural activity predictive of accurate subsequent item and source memory judgments was identified in bilateral IFG, several other cortical regions and bilateral hippocampus. Cortical effects were graded in the young group (source > item > miss) but predicted item memory only in the older group. Hippocampal effects exclusively predicted source memory, and the magnitude of these effects did not reliably differ between the age groups. In the older group only, IFG and hippocampal encoding effects were positively correlated across participants with memory performance. Similar findings were evident in the extra-IFG regions demonstrating encoding effects. With the exception of the age-dependent relationship identified for hippocampal encoding effects, the present findings are broadly consistent with those from prior aging studies that employed verbal memoranda and tests of associative recognition. Thus, they extend these prior findings to include non-verbal materials and a different operationalization of episodic recollection. Additionally, the present findings suggest that the sensitivity in older adults of IFG encoding effects to subsequent memory performance reflects a more general tendency for cortical encoding effects to predict memory performance in this age group.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108415
Early online date4 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022

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