Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Compensatory Brain Activity during Encoding among Older Adults with Better Recognition Memory for Face-Name Pairs: An Integrative Functional, Structural, and Perfusion Imaging Study

  • Katherine J. Bangen (a1), Allison R. Kaup (a2), Heline Mirzakhanian (a1), Christina E. Wierenga (a1) (a3), Dilip V. Jeste (a1) (a4) and Lisa T. Eyler (a1) (a4) (a5)...

Many neuroimaging studies interpret the commonly reported findings of age-related increases in frontal response and/or increased bilateral activation as suggestive of compensatory neural recruitment. However, it is often unclear whether differences are due to compensation or reflective of other cognitive or physiological processes. This study aimed to determine whether there are compensatory age-related changes in brain systems supporting successful associative encoding while taking into account potentially confounding factors including age-related differences in task performance, atrophy, and resting perfusion. Brain response during encoding of face-name pairs was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging in 10 older and nine young adults and was correlated with memory performance. During successful encoding, older adults demonstrated increased frontal and decreased occipital activity as well as greater bilateral involvement relative to the young. Findings remained significant after controlling for age-related cortical atrophy and hypoperfusion. Among the older adults, greater response was associated with better memory performance. Cognitive aging may involve recruitment of compensatory mechanisms to improve performance or prevent impairment. Results extend previous findings by suggesting that age-related alterations in activation cannot be attributed to the commonly observed findings of poorer task performance, reduced resting perfusion, or cortical atrophy among older adults. (JINS, 2012, 18, 402–413)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Katherine J. Bangen, 9500 Gilman Drive # 9151B, La Jolla, CA 92093-9151B, E-mail:
Hide All
K. J. Bangen , K. Restom , T. T. Liu , A. J. Jak , C. E. Wierenga , D. P. Salmon , M. W. Bondi (2009). Differential age effects on cerebral blood flow and BOLD response to encoding: Associations with cognition and stroke risk. Neurobiology of Aging, 30, 12761287.

R. Cabeza (2002). Hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults: The HAROLD model. Psychology and Aging, 17, 85100.

R. W. Cox (1996). AFNI: Software for analysis and visualization of functional magnetic resonance neuroimages. Computers and Biomedical Research, 29, 162173.

S. W. Davis , N. A. Dennis , S. M. Daselaar , M. S. Fleck , R. Cabeza (2008). Que PASA? The posterior-anterior shift in aging. Cerebral Cortex, 18, 12011209.

M. D'Esposito , L. Y. Deouell , A. Gazzaley (2003). Alterations in the BOLD FMRI signal with ageing and disease: A challenge for neuroimaging. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4, 863872.

S. Duverne , S. Motamedinia , M. D. Rugg (2009). The relationship between aging, performance, and the neural correlates of successful memory encoding. Cerebral Cortex, 19, 733744.

C. L. Grady , A. R. McIntosh , B. Horwtiz , J. A. Maisog , L. G. Ungerleider , M. J. Mentis , J. V. Haxby (1995). Age-related reductions in human recognition memory due to impaired encoding. Science, 269, 218221.

S. D. Han , K. J. Bangen , M. W. Bondi (2009). Functional magnetic resonance imaging of compensatory neural recruitment in adding and risk for Alzheimer's disease: Review and recommendations. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders, 27, 110.

S. D. Han , W. S. Houston , A. J. Jak , L. T. Eyler , B. J. Nagel , A. S. Fleisher , M. W. Bondi (2007). Verbal paired-associate learning by APOE genotype in non-demented older adults: FMRI evidence of a right hemispheric compensatory response. Neurobiology of Aging, 28, 238247.

S. C. Johnson , A. J. Saykin , L. A. Flashman , T. W. McAllister , M. B. Sparling (2001). Brain activation on fMRI and verbal memory ability: Functional neuroanatomic correlates of CVLT performance. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 7, 5562.

J. M. Logan , A. L. Sanders , A. Z. Snyder , J. C. Morris , R. L. Buckner (2002). Underrecruitment and nonselective recruitment: Dissociable neural mechanisms associated with aging. Neuron, 33, 827840.

P. J. Phillips , H. Moon , S. A. Rizvi , P. Rauss (2000). The FERET evaluation methodology for face-recognition algorithms. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, 22, 10901104.

P. J. Phillips , H. Wechsler , J. Huang , P. Rauss (1998). The FERET database and evaluation procedure for face recognition algorithms. Image and Vision Computing, 16, 295306.

P. A. Reuter-Lorenz (2002). New visions of the aging mind and brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6, 394400.

M. L. Seghier (2008). Laterality index in functional MRI: Methodological issues. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 26, 594601.

C. E. Wierenga , M. W. Bondi (2007). Use of functional magnetic resonance imaging in the early identification of Alzheimer's disease. Neuropsychology Review, 17, 127143.

R. S. Wilson , L. A. Beckett , L. L. Barnes , J. A. Schneider , J. Bach , D. A. Evans , D. A. Bennett (2002). Individual differences in rates of change in cognitive abilities of older persons. Psychology and Aging, 17, 179193.

E. C. Wong (2005). Quantifying CBF with pulsed ASL: Technical and pulse sequence factors. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 22, 727731.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
  • ISSN: 1355-6177
  • EISSN: 1469-7661
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-neuropsychological-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 3
Total number of PDF views: 20 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 135 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 17th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.