Age-Related Similarities and Differences in Brain Activity Underlying Reversal Learning




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The ability to update associative memory is an important aspect of episodic memory and a critical skill for social adaptation. Previous research with younger adults suggests that emotional arousal alters brain mechanisms underlying memory updating; however, it is unclear whether this applies to older adults. Given that the ability to update associative information declines with age, it is important to understand how emotion modulates the brain processes underlying memory updating in older adults. The current study investigated this question using reversal learning tasks, where younger and older participants (age ranges 19-35 and 61-78, respectively) learn a stimulus-outcome association and then update their response when contingencies change. We found that younger and older adults showed similar patterns of activation in the frontopolar OFC and the amygdala during emotional reversal learning. In contrast, when reversal learning did not involve emotion, older adults showed greater parietal cortex activity than did younger adults. Thus, younger and older adults show more similarities in brain activity during memory updating involving emotional stimuli than during memory updating not involving emotional stimuli.;



Amygdaloid body, Reversal learning, Older people, Aging, Memory disorders in old age

National Institute on Aging grants R01AG025340, K02AG032309 and 5T32AG000037


CC BY 3.0 (Attribution), ©2013 The Authors


Nashiro, Kaoru, Michiko Sakaki, Lin Nga, and Mara Mather. 2013. "Age-related similarities and differences in brain activity underlying reversal learning." Frontiers In Integrative Neuroscience 7: 37-37.