Event-Related fMRI of Inhibitory Control Reveals Lateralized Prefrontal Activation Differences between Healthy Young and Older Adults
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Brain and Cognition
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Damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VM) frequently impairs decision making. This association is also supported by functional imaging studies. It has been proposed that normal aging may be accompanied by disproportionate changes in frontal lobe structure and function. We studied 80 normal adults, aged 26 to 85 years, using a gambling task sensitive to decision-making impairments and frontal lobe dysfunction. Nearly all younger participants (37/40) performed advantageously (i.e., developed risk aversion over trials); however, a number of older participants (14/40) failed to develop risk aversion and made disadvantageous decisions in a manner reminiscent of VM patients. The results lend support to the notion that there can be differential aging of the frontal lobes and may explain why some older adults show vulnerability to advertising fraud.