Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate whether age-related differences in episodic memory performance are accompanied by a reduction in the specificity of recollected information. We addressed this question by comparing recollection-related cortical reinstatement in young and older adults. At study, subjects viewed objects and concrete words, making 1 of 2 different semantic judgments depending on the study material. Test items were words that corresponded to studied words or the names of studied objects. Subjects indicated whether each test item was recollected, familiar, or novel. Reinstatement of information differentiating the encoding tasks was quantified both with a univariate analysis of the fMRI signal and with a multivoxel pattern analysis, using a classifier that had been trained to discriminate between the 2 classes of study episode. The results of these analyses converged to suggest that reinstatement did not differ according to age. Thus, there was no evidence that specificity of recollected information was reduced in older individuals. Additionally, there were no age effects in the magnitude of recollection-related modulations in regional activity or in the neural correlates of post-retrieval monitoring. Taken together, the findings suggest that the neural mechanisms engaged during successful episodic retrieval can remain stable with advancing age.
Keywords: MVPA; aging; episodic memory; fMRI.
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