Age-related differences in interference control in the context of a finger-lifting task: an fMRI study

Federica Riva, Ekaterina Pronizius, Melanie Lenger, Martin Kronbichler, Giorgia Silani, Claus Lamm

Humans tend to automatically imitate others and their actions while also being able to control such imitative tendencies. Interference control, necessary to suppress own imitative tendencies, develops rapidly in childhood and adolescence, plateaus in adulthood and slowly declines with advancing age. It remains to be shown though which neural processes underpin these differences across the lifespan. In a cross-sectional functional magnetic resonance imaging study with three age groups (adolescents (ADs) 14 17 years, young adults (YAs) 21 31, older adults (OAs) 56 76, N = 91 healthy female participants), we investigated the behavioral and neural correlates of interference control in the context of automatic imitation using the finger-lifting task. ADs showed the most efficient interference control, while no significant differences emerged between YAs and OAs, despite OAs showing longer reaction times. On the neural level, all age groups showed engagement of the right temporoparietal junction, right supramarginal gyrus and bilateral insula, aligning well with studies previously using this task. However, our analyses did not reveal any age-related differences in brain activation, neither in these nor in other areas. This suggests that ADs might have a more efficient use of the engaged brain networks and, on the other hand, OAs capacity for interference control and the associated brain functions might be largely preserved.

Institut für Psychologie der Kognition, Emotion und Methoden, Institut für Klinische und Gesundheitspsychologie
Externe Organisation(en)
Paris-Lodron Universität Salzburg, Paracelsus Medizinische Privatuniversität (PMU)
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
ÖFOS 2012
501006 Experimentalpsychologie
ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete
Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience
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