Neural correlates of novelty and face-age effects in young and elderly adults

Neuroimage. 2008 Aug 15;42(2):956-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.05.015. Epub 2008 May 20.


The human amygdala preferentially responds to objects of potential value, such as hedonically valenced and novel stimuli. Many studies have documented age-related differences in amygdala responses to valenced stimuli, but relatively little is known about age-related changes in the amygdala's response to novelty. This study examines whether there are differences in amygdala novelty responses in two different age groups. Healthy young and elderly adults viewed both young and elderly faces that were seen many times (familiar faces) or only once (novel faces) in the context of an fMRI study. We observed that amygdala responses to novel (versus familiar) faces were preserved with aging, suggesting that novelty processing in the amygdala remains stable across the lifespan. In addition, participants demonstrated larger amygdala responses to target faces of the same age group than to age out-group target faces (i.e., an age in-group effect). Differences in anatomic localization and behavioral results suggest that novelty and age in-group effects were differentially processed in the amygdala.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Young Adult