Under-recruitment and nonselective recruitment: Dissociable neural mechanisms associated with aging

Jessica M. Logan, Amy L. Sanders, Abraham Z. Snyder, John C. Morris, Randy L. Buckner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

608 Scopus citations


Frontal contributions to cognitive decline in aging were explored using functional MRI. Frontal regions active in younger adults during self-initiated (intentional) memory encoding were under-recruited in older adults. Older adults showed less activity in anterior-ventral regions associated with controlled use of semantic information. Under-recruitment was reversed by requiring semantic elaboration suggesting it stemmed from difficulty in spontaneous recruitment of available frontal resources. In addition, older adults recruited multiple frontal regions in a nonselective manner for both verbal and nonverbal materials. Lack of selectivity was not reversed during semantically directed encoding even when under-recruitment was diminished. These findings suggest two separate forms of age-associated change in frontal cortex: under-recruitment and nonselective recruitment. The former is reversible and potentially amenable to cognitive training; the latter may reflect a less malleable change associated with cognitive decline in advanced aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-840
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 28 2002


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