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Comparative Study
. 2014 Nov;69(6):852-60.
doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu108. Epub 2014 Sep 10.

Age-related Differences in Functional Connectivity During Cognitive Emotion Regulation

Free PMC article
Comparative Study

Age-related Differences in Functional Connectivity During Cognitive Emotion Regulation

Eric S Allard et al. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. .
Free PMC article


Objectives: Successful emotion regulation partly depends on our capacity to modulate emotional responses through the use of cognitive strategies. Age may affect the strategies employed most often; thus, we examined younger and older adults' neural network connectivity when employing two different strategies: cognitive reappraisal and selective attention.

Method: The current study used psychophysiological interaction analyses to examine functional connectivity with a region of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) because it is a core part of an emotion regulation network showing relative structural preservation with age.

Results: Functional connectivity between ACC and prefrontal cortex (PFC) was greater for reappraisal relative to selective attention and passive viewing conditions for both age groups. For younger adults, ACC was more strongly connected with lateral dorsolateral PFC, ventrolateral PFC, dorsomedial PFC, and posterior cingulate regions during reappraisal. For older adults, stronger connectivity during reappraisal was observed primarily in ventromedial PFC and orbitofrontal cortex.

Discussion: Our results suggest that although young and older adults engage PFC networks during regulation, and particularly during reappraisal, the regions within these networks might differ. Additionally, these results clarify that, despite prior evidence for age-related declines in the structure and function of those regions, older adults are able to recruit ACC and PFC regions as part of coherent network during emotion regulation.

Keywords: Aging; Emotion regulation; PPI; Reappraisal; Selective attention.; fMRI.


Figure 1.
Figure 1.
(A) Seed region localization (pink) for all PPI analyses assessing young and older adults centered on a peak cluster in ACC (Talairach: 12 13 31). (B) Regions showing enhanced connectivity with the ACC seed region during reappraisal > passive viewing, (C) reappraisal > selective attention, and (D) reappraisal > passive viewing + selective attention (red: young adults; blue: older adults). PPI = psychophysiological interaction.

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