An application of prefrontal cortex function theory to cognitive aging

Psychol Bull. 1996 Sep;120(2):272-92. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.120.2.272.


The purpose of this review is to extend the existing application of the frontal lobe hypothesis of cognitive aging beyond the limited work on inhibitory control (F. N. Dempster, 1992) to include memory processes supported by the prefrontal cortex. To establish a background for this analysis, I review existing models of prefrontal cortex function and present a synthesized model that includes a general function of temporal integration, supported by 4 specific processes: prospective memory, retrospective memory, interference control, and inhibition of prepotent responses. I found the frontal lobe hypothesis to perform well, with the exception of an inability to account for age-related declines in item recall and recognition memory, possibly a result of age-related declines in medial temporal function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychophysiology
  • Reference Values