The relationships between age, associative memory performance, and the neural correlates of successful associative memory encoding

Marianne de Chastelaine, Julia T. Mattson, Tracy H. Wang, Brian E. Donley, Michael D. Rugg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, subsequent memory effects (greater activity for later remembered than later forgotten study items) predictive of associative encoding were compared across samples of young, middle-aged, and older adults (total N = 136). During scanning, participants studied visually presented word pairs. In a later test phase, they discriminated between studied pairs, “rearranged” pairs (items studied on different trials), and new pairs. Subsequent memory effects were identified by contrasting activity elicited by study pairs that went on to be correctly judged intact or incorrectly judged rearranged. Effects in the hippocampus were age-invariant and positively correlated across participants with associative memory performance. Subsequent memory effects in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) were greater in the older than the young group. In older participants only, both left and, in contrast to prior reports, right IFG subsequent memory effects correlated positively with memory performance. We suggest that the IFG is especially vulnerable to age-related decline in functional integrity and that the relationship between encoding-related activity in right IFG and memory performance depends on the experimental context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-176
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Early online date19 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • fMRI
  • Aging
  • Associative recognition
  • Episodic memory
  • Hippocampus
  • Over-recruitment

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