Healthy older adults often exhibit lower performance but increased functional recruitment of the frontoparietal control network during cognitive control tasks. According to the cortical disconnection hypothesis, age-related changes in the microstructural integrity of white matter may disrupt inter-regional neuronal communication, which in turn can impair behavioral performance. Here, we use fMRI and diffusion-weighted imaging to determine whether age-related differences in white matter microstructure contribute to frontoparietal over-recruitment and behavioral performance during a response inhibition (go/no-go) task in an adult life span sample (n = 145). Older and female participants were slower (go RTs) than younger and male participants, respectively. However, participants across all ages were equally accurate on the no-go trials, suggesting some participants may slow down on go trials to achieve high accuracy on no-go trials. Across the life span, functional recruitment of the frontoparietal network within the left and right hemispheres did not vary as a function of age, nor was it related to white matter fractional anisotropy (FA). In fact, only frontal FA and go RTs jointly mediated the association between age and no-go accuracy. Our results therefore suggest that frontal white matter cortical “disconnection” is an underlying driver of age-related differences in cognitive control, and white matter FA may not fully explain functional task-related activation in the frontoparietal network during the go/no-go task. Our findings add to the literature by demonstrating that white matter may be more important for certain cognitive processes in aging than task-related functional activation.

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