Both left and right posterior parietal activations contribute to compensatory processes in normal aging

Chih-Mao Huang*, Thad A. Polk, Joshua O. Goh, Denise C. Park

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Older adults often exhibit greater brain activation in prefrontal cortex compared to younger adults, and there is some evidence that this increased activation compensates for age-related neural degradation that would otherwise adversely affect cognitive performance. Less is known about aging and compensatory recruitment in the parietal cortex. In this event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we presented healthy young and old participants with two Stroop-like tasks (number magnitude and physical size). In young, the number magnitude task activated right parietal cortex and the physical size task activated left parietal cortex. In older adults, we observed contralateral parietal recruitment that depended on the task: in the number magnitude task older participants recruited left posterior parietal cortex (in addition to the right parietal activity observed in young) while in the physical size task they recruited right (in addition to left) posterior parietal cortex. In both cases, the additional parietal activity was associated with better performance suggesting that it played a compensatory role. Older adults also recruited left prefrontal cortex during both tasks and this common activation was also associated with better performance. The results provide evidence for task-specific compensatory recruitment in parietal cortex as well as task-independent compensatory recruitment in prefrontal cortex in normal aging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Age-related compensation
  • Event-related fMRI
  • Interference resolution
  • Posterior parietal cortex
  • Prefrontal cortex

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