Age differences in orbitofrontal activation: An fMRI investigation of delayed match and nonmatch to sample

Melissa Lamar, David M. Yousem, Susan M. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Several investigations have suggested that the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of age-related changes. We recently reported behavioral data indicating greater age differences in orbitofrontal tasks when directly compared to tasks tapping dorsolateral prefrontal functions. The present study was designed to investigate the neural underpinnings of age differences in OFC functioning. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed during delayed match and nonmatch to sample tasks, previously shown to differentially activate medial and lateral OFC in young adults. Sixteen healthy younger [age = 26.7(5.6)] and 16 healthy older individuals [age = 69.1 + 5.6] with similar levels of education and general cognitive functioning participated in the experiment. Participants chose the stimulus from a pair of stimuli matching a previously viewed target (match to sample) or chose the nontarget item (nonmatch to sample) depending upon a trial-specific instruction word. Consistent with previous studies, SPM99 analyses of the younger age group revealed activation for medial OFC regions during the match task compared to the nonmatch task and lateral OFC activation during the nonmatch task compared to the match task. In contrast, older adults showed prefrontal activation only during the match relative to the nonmatch task and posterior temporal and limbic involvement during the nonmatch relative to the match task. Between-group analyses confirmed within-group results suggesting differential age-related recruitment of prefrontal regions when performing match and nonmatch tasks. Results suggest that OFC recruitment during these cognitive tasks changes with age and should be evaluated within the context of other prefrontal subregions to further define differential age effects on frontal functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1368-1376
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Age-related differences
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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