One study provides evidence by comparing the brain scans of 93 participants falling under the ages of 18 and 93 by using functional MRI (fMRI). The fMRI works by showing areas of the brain with enhanced blood flow indicating greater brain activity involved in creating memory. Differences in brain activity across the age groups determine variances in memory creation and control as reaction to a uniform message as sensory stimulus. Results showed that there are differences in the brain scan results of younger and older participants.
Bran scans of younger participants showed more robust neural communication expressed through heightened brain activity and synchronization between the front and back regions of the brain. It also takes greater effort for the brain to process sensory inputs in older participants. Furthermore, there are signs of degradation in the white matter of the brain of the older participants, which explains the lesser brain activity and slower processing of sensory inputs. (Andrews-Hanna et al. , 2007)
Another study also provides evidence in using functional MRI (fMRI) to study the relative activation and deactivation processes in the different regions of the brain involved in memory creation, in 17 younger and 17 older participants who are all healthy. The common stimulus used is face and name recognition. There should be sufficient activation and deactivation between the three brain regions to signal a well-functioning memory network. The results showed that the younger and older age groups showed like brain scans of the hippocampus indicating similarities in activation to support associative face with name encoding.
However, the brain scans of the participants showed differences in the deactivation precuneus, with greater activity for the younger groups. This indicates higher degrees of parietal deactivation in younger participants when compared to the older participants. Lesser deactivation relates to memory impairment. (Miller et al. , 2008) Pathological factors related to age also affects memory. Alzheimer’s disease is an age-related condition commonly experienced by individuals 65 years and older. This disease adversely affects memory and cognitive functioning.
Memory decline due to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease involves the atrophy of neurons and synapses, which affects the cognitive functions and memory of an individual. The atrophy of neurons affects the cerebral cortex by adversely affecting the ability of a person to select and receive stimulus to create memory. The decline in the functioning of the cerebral cortex then translates into the storage and retrieval of information. The loss of neurons and synapses also affects the hippocampus, which forms part of the medial temporal lobe. The hippocampus is responsible for the spatial navigation of the brain and the creation of short-term memory.
The atrophy of neurons and synapse of aging individuals with Alzheimer’s disease tend to exhibit disorientation with their surroundings. The disorientation then impedes the creation of short-term memory because of the inability to consolidate and process visual stimulus, which are necessary in creating and retaining memory. (Selkoe, 2002; Buckner et al. , 2005) The cognitive perspective approaches the link between age and memory in terms of the contribution of age to differences in the processing of information by individuals and the creation of different types of memory.
Age affects memory by slowing down the ability of individuals to process information and use processing resources. This translates into slower response rates and lesser attention or focus of older relative to younger individuals. Another effect is in the decline in working memory as people age due to lower storage capacity and decline in information manipulation. (Lou & Craik, 2008) Slower response rates and decrease in storage capacity explain the decline in memory with the aging of individuals.