Memory, ageing and the brain
Ageing brings with it a decline in memory for specific events which has important repercussions in everyday life. Behavioural studies have done much to define the nature of this decline, and to place it in the context of broader cognitive difficulties. Functional imaging measures made separately during episodic encoding and retrieval can provide information about age-related changes in these different stages of memory, and in this talk data will be presented from studies of both. The aim of these studies has been to examine the neural correlates of episodic memory processing whilst avoiding confounding age with task difficulty. The discussion will focus both on the specific implications the findings have for our understanding of age-related memory decline, and on the more general interpretation of some of the qualitative changes in brain activity in older compared to younger adults that persist even when difficulty is matched. These more general questions present a challenge for our understanding of neurocognitive ageing and the ways in which it may be investigated, and raise the possibility that some age-related changes in the brain may be compensatory.