Sensitivity of negative subsequent memory and task-negative effects to age and associative memory performance

Brain Res. 2015 Jul 1;1612:16-29. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.09.045. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


The present fMRI experiment employed associative recognition to investigate the relationships between age and encoding-related negative subsequent memory effects and task-negative effects. Young, middle-aged and older adults (total n=136) were scanned while they made relational judgments on visually presented word pairs. In a later memory test, the participants made associative recognition judgments on studied, rearranged (items studied on different trials) and new pairs. Several regions, mostly localized to the default mode network, demonstrated negative subsequent memory effects in an across age-group analysis. All but one of these regions also demonstrated task-negative effects, although there was no correlation between the size of the respective effects. Whereas negative subsequent memory effects demonstrated a graded attenuation with age, task-negative effects declined markedly between the young and the middle-aged group, but showed no further reduction in the older group. Negative subsequent memory effects did not correlate with memory performance within any age group. By contrast, in the older group only, task-negative effects predicted later memory performance. The findings demonstrate that negative subsequent memory and task-negative effects depend on dissociable neural mechanisms and likely reflect distinct cognitive processes. The relationship between task-negative effects and memory performance in the older group might reflect the sensitivity of these effects to variations in amount of age-related neuropathology. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI: Memory.

Keywords: Aging; Associative recognition; Memory encoding; Recollection; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Association Learning / physiology*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Semantics*
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen