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The Stroop interference effect, caused by difficulty inhibiting overlearned word reading, is often more pronounced in older adults. This has been proposed to be due to declines in inhibitory control and frontal lobe functions with aging. Initial neuroimaging studies of inhibitory control show that older adults have enhanced activation in multiple frontal areas, particularly in inferior frontal gyrus, indicative of recruitment to aid with performance of the task. The current study compared 13 younger and 13 older adults, all healthy and well educated, who completed a Stroop test during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Younger adults were more accurate across conditions, and both groups were slower and less accurate during the interference condition. The groups exhibited comparable activation regions, but older adults exhibited greater activation in numerous frontal areas, including the left inferior frontal gyrus. The results support the recruitment construct and suggest, along with previous research, that the inferior frontal gyrus is important for successful inhibition.
Langenecker, Scott Aaron; Nielson, Kristy A.; and Rao, Stephen M., "fMRI of Healthy Older Adults During Stroop Interference" (2004). Psychology Faculty Research and Publications. 105.