This study examines age-related differences in inhibitory control as measured by stop-signal performance. The participants were 24 adults aged 20–30 years and 24 older adults aged 61–76 years. The task blocks were pure choice reaction-time blocks, global stop-signal blocks (with an auditory stop signal), and selective stop-signal blocks (with valid and invalid stop signals). There was a decline in reactive inhibitory control for the older group reflected by greater stop-signal reaction times and reduced P3 peak amplitudes in both global and selective stop-signal task blocks. The decreased reactive inhibitory control might result from speed-accuracy tradeoffs. Conversely, no age-related decline in proactive inhibitory control was observed. This was reflected by slower response times (RTs) and reduced P3 peak amplitudes during GO trials in blocks with stop-signals relative to those in blocks of pure choice reaction-time tasks, and in which the RT and amplitude differences were similar between groups. The results further show age-related compensation responses associated with proactive inhibition, such as increased activation at the frontal site among older participants, resulting in no differences in P3 peak amplitudes between electrode sites, and smaller differences at the Fz site than other sites compared with younger adults. For older adults, the P3 peak amplitude at the Fz site was significantly correlated with the RT of proactive inhibitory control. This shows that larger RT differences were associated with larger reductions in P3 peak amplitudes in the stop-signal blocks relative to the pure choice blocks. These results appear to support age-related compensation hypotheses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience