The effects of age on neural correlates of recognition memory: An fMRI study

Brain Cogn. 2021 Oct;153:105785. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2021.105785. Epub 2021 Aug 19.


Studies examining the effects of age on the neural correlates of recognition memory have yielded mixed results. In the present study, we employed a modified remember-know paradigm to compare the fMRI correlates of recollection and familiarity in samples of healthy young and older adults. After studying a series of words, participants underwent fMRI scanning during a test phase in which they responded "remember" to a test word if any qualitative information could be recollected about the study event. When recollection failed, participants signaled how confident they were that the test item had been studied. Young and older adults demonstrated statistically equivalent estimates of recollection and familiarity strength, while recognition memory accuracy was significantly lower in the older adults. Robust, age-invariant fMRI effects were evident in two sets of a priori defined brain regions consistently reported in prior studies to be sensitive to recollection and familiarity respectively. In addition, the magnitudes of 'familiarity-attenuation effects' in perirhinal cortex demonstrated age-invariant correlations with estimates of familiarity strength and memory accuracy, replicating prior findings. Together, the present findings add to the evidence that the neural correlates of recognition memory are largely stable across much of the healthy human adult lifespan.

Keywords: Core recollection network; Familiarity; Perirhinal cortex; Recollection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mental Recall
  • Recognition, Psychology*