Relatively few studies have analyzed the mechanisms underlying the cognitive changes that affect language in the elderly, and fewer have done so for narrative discourse. The goal of this study was to explore the neurofunctional changes associated with aging for different components of narrative discourse. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and behavioral data on 10 younger adults and 10 healthy elderly participants were collected. Ten younger adults in a non-proficient second language condition were included to explore the possibility that the age-related neurofunctional reorganization partly expresses demanding resource allocation. Results show within- and across-hemispheric differences in the neurofunctional pattern of activation in the older participants with reference to the younger ones, partially shared with the low-proficiency young adults, providing support for the recognized mechanisms underlying neural reserve and compensation. fNIRS was shown to be appropriate for studying the age-related neurofunctional reorganization of complex cognitive abilities.
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