Title

On age differences in prefrontal function: The importance of emotional/cognitive integration

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Evidence of prefrontal cortex decline among healthy older adults has been widely reported, although many questions remain regarding the functional heterogeneity of the prefrontal lobes and the uniformity (or lack thereof) with which discrete regions decline with age. MacPherson, Phillips, and Della Sala (2002) previously reported age differences in tasks associated with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) function (executive control), but not for tasks associated with ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) function (emotional/cognitive integration). The present study, conducted using 39 younger adults and 39 older adults, replicates the MacPherson et al. findings regarding DLPFC functioning. However, and perhaps due to the use of more sensitive tasks, we also find age differences in tasks associated with VMPFC function. Specifically, both univariate and multivariate analyses indicated older adults showed deficits across the DLPFC and VMPFC tasks. Exploratory factor analysis of the task performance scores indicated four underlying dimensions, two related to DLPFC functioning and two related to VMPFC functioning. A set of structural equation models specifying age effects on the four task performance factors was tested, in order to contrast models of process-specific vs. common age effects. Our results suggest that older adults show deficits in emotional/cognitive integration as well as in executive function, and that those effects do include process-specific age deficits. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Date

1-1-2010

Publication Title

Neuropsychologia

ISSN

00283932

Volume

48

Issue

1

First Page

319

Last Page

333

PubMed ID

19786039

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2009.09.021

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