Numerous neuroimaging studies have revealed that in young adults, remembering the past and imagining the future engage a common core network. Although it has been observed that older adults engage a similar network during these tasks, it is unclear whether or not they activate this network in a similar manner to young adults. Young and older participants completed two autobiographical tasks (imagining future events and recalling past events) in addition to a semantic-visuospatial control task. Spatiotemporal Partial Least Squares analyses examined whole brain patterns of activity across both the construction and elaboration of autobiographical events. These analyses revealed that that both age groups activated a similar network during the autobiographical tasks. However, some key age-related differences in the activation of this network emerged. During the construction of autobiographical events, older adults showed less activation relative to younger adults, in regions supporting episodic detail such as the medial temporal lobes and the precuneus. Later in the trial, older adults showed differential recruitment of medial and lateral temporal regions supporting the elaboration of autobiographical events, and possibly reflecting an increased role of conceptual information when older adults describe their pasts and their futures.
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