Abstract

Older individuals show decline of prefrontal cortex (PFC) functions which may be related to altered dopaminergic neurotransmission. We investigated the effects of aging and dopaminergic stimulation in 15 young and 13 older healthy subjects on the neural correlates of interference control using fMRI. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled within-subject design, subjects were measured after levodopa (100 mg) or placebo administration. In each session, subjects performed a visual–spatial interference task based on a Stroop/Simon-like paradigm. Across age groups, interference (incongruent relative to congruent trials) was associated with activations in the presupplementary motor area, ACC, and intraparietal cortex. Increased interference was found behaviorally in older volunteers. Differential activation in left dorsolateral PFC in young subjects and bilateral PFC activity in older subjects was observed to be associated with interference control. Performance deteriorated under levodopa only in young subjects. This was accompanied by an increase of neural activity in ACC (p < .05; small-volume correction for multiple comparisons). Worsening of performance under levodopa in young subjects and the associated effect on ACC may indicate that overstimulation of the dopaminergic system compromises interference control. This supports the inverted-U-shaped model of neurotransmitter action.

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