Repetition suppression in aging: A near-infrared spectroscopy study on the size-congruity effect

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Age-related changes in the hemodynamic response regarding inhibition capacity and repetition suppression were examined using a modified version of the numerical Stroop task. Young (20–38 yrs; M = 28 yrs; N = 18), middle-aged (47–59 yrs; M = 52 yrs; N = 17), and older participants (60–78 yrs; M = 69 yrs; N = 19) solved a physical and numerical version of the size-congruity task, in which trials from the same experimental condition were presented in triplets. Response times revealed a strong Stroop effect in both tasks (faster reaction times during neutral than during incongruent trials) and increased with participants' age. Reaction times decreased with item repetition. In line with previous studies, the hemodynamic response (relative concentration changes in oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin) assessed with near-infrared spectroscopy was comparable across incongruent and neutral trials. Strong repetition suppression of the oxygenated hemoglobin response was observed in frontal brain regions as well as in the left parietal region in all age groups. In middle and right parietal regions, repetition suppression decreased with age and was absent among older participants. These results indicate a reduced adaptation of the hemodynamic response in middle and right parietal regions of older individuals' brains in response to repeated interference control.

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