We examined aging effects on activation in the anterior cingulate cortex during a verbal working memory using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Ten young (mean age 25 years) and 10 elderly (mean age 69 years) healthy adults performed the reading span test in which performance reflects individual differences in verbal working memory. We found an age-related difference in executive function in the prefrontal cortex; younger participants showed significant anterior cingulate cortex activation whereas the elderly did not. We found that the anterior cingulate cortex plays a critical role in executive function related to working memory. We found that behavioral deficits in verbal working memory because of aging result from the deterioration of cognitive control owing to decreased activation of the anterior cingulate cortex.
aDepartment of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University, Kyoto
bDepartment of Psychology, Kyoto Prefectural University, Kyoto
cHuman and Information Science Laboratory, NTT Communication Science Laboratories, NTT Corporation, Atsugi
dDepartment of Psychology, Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Minoh, Japan
Correspondence and requests for reprints to Yuki Otsuka, Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University, Yoshida-honmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan
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Sponsorship: This study was supported by the JSPS grant to N.O. (♯16203037) and M.O. (♯18330156) and by 21st COE program (D2-Kyoto_Univ.) from MEXT.
Received 20 June 2006; accepted 7 July 2006