Prestimulus and poststimulus oscillatory activity predicts successful episodic encoding for both young and older adults.


Department of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA. Electronic address: [Email]


Healthy aging is associated with declines in episodic memory performance that are due in part to deficits in encoding. Emerging results from young adult studies suggest that the neural activity during the time preceding stimulus presentation is sensitive to episodic memory performance. It is unknown whether age-related declines in episodic memory are due solely to changes in the recruitment of processes elicited by stimuli during encoding or also in processes recruited in anticipation of these stimuli. Here, we recorded oscillatory electroencephalography while young and old participants encoded visual and auditory words that were preceded by cues indicating the stimulus modality. Individual differences in alpha oscillatory activity preceding, and following, stimulus onset was predictive of subsequent memory performance similarly across age. Poststimulus theta power correlated positively with episodic memory performance for old but not young adults, potentially reflecting older adults' tendency to self-generate associations during encoding. Collectively, these results suggest that the preparatory mobilization of neural processes before encoding that benefits episodic memory performance is not affected by age but instead dependent on the individual's propensity to preemptively mobilize task-specific processes.


Aging,EEG,Long-term memory,Oscillations,Prestimulus,