Neuroanatomical and Cognitive Mediators of Age-Related Differences in Perceptual Priming and Learning

Kristen M. Kennedy, Karen M. Rodrigue, Denise Head, Faith Gunning-Dixon, Naftali Raz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Our objectives were to assess age differences in perceptual repetition priming and perceptual skill learning and to determine whether they are mediated by cognitive resources and regional cerebral volume differences. Fragmented picture identification paradigm allows the study of both priming and learning within the same task. The authors presented this task to 169 adults (ages 18-80), assessed working memory and fluid intelligence, and measured brain volumes of regions that were deemed relevant to those cognitive skills. The data were analyzed within a hierarchical path modeling framework. In addition to finding age-related decrease in both perceptual priming and learning, the authors observed several dissociations with regards to their neural and cognitive mediators. Larger visual cortex volume was associated with greater repetition priming, but not perceptual skill learning, and neither process depended upon hippocampal volume. In contrast, the volumes of the prefrontal gray and white matter were differentially related to both processes via direct and indirect effects of cognitive resources. The results indicate that age-related differences in perceptual priming and skill learning have dissociable cognitive and neural correlates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-491
Number of pages17
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • MRI
  • aging
  • brain
  • learning
  • priming


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