Past research finds that age-related increases in false recognitions are a key contributor to age-related memory decline, suggesting that older adults have difficulty in correctly distinguishing between new and old information, particularly when new items at retrieval are semantically or perceptually related to items from encoding. However, little work has examined the neural mechanisms older adults engage to avoid false recognitions and successfully identify information as novel. In the present study, young and older adults were scanned during a retrieval task in which new items were exemplars from studied categories (related lures) or unstudied categories (unrelated lures) in order to detect age-related differences in the neural correlates of related and unrelated novelty processing. Results showed that, unlike young adults, older adults did not differentially recruit regions such as the anterior cingulate and bilateral middle/inferior temporal gyrus to capitalize on the salient categorical differences in unrelated items. Likewise, older adults did not differentially recruit regions of early visual cortex or anterior hippocampus, suggesting that older adults have difficulty using item-specific details to make successful related novelty decisions. Instead, older adults recruited bilateral ventrolateral prefrontal cortex differentially for successful novelty processing and particularly for related novelty processing. Overall, results suggest that age deficits in novelty processing may arise because older adults process related and unrelated lures similarly and do not capitalize on categorical or item-specific properties of novel items. Similar to aging patterns in memory retrieval, results also showed that older adults have the strongest novelty success activity in lateral PFC regions associated with control and monitoring processes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Neurology
- Developmental Biology