The authors assessed individual differences in cortical recruitment, brain morphology, and inhibitory task performance. Similar to previous studies, older adults tended toward bilateral activity during task performance more than younger adults. However, better performing older adults showed less bilateral activity than poorer performers, contrary to the idea that additional activity is universally compensatory. A review of the results and of extant literature suggests that compensatory activity in prefrontal cortex may only be effective if the additional cortical processors brought to bear on the task can play a complementary role in task performance. Morphological analyses revealed that frontal white matter tracts differed as a function of performance in older adults, suggesting that hemispheric connectivity might impact both patterns of recruitment and cognitive performance.
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