Aging is associated with preserved enhancement of emotional memory, as well as with age-related reductions in memory for negative stimuli, but the neural networks underlying such alterations are not clear. We used a subsequent-memory paradigm to identify brain activity predicting enhanced emotional memory in young and older adults. Activity in the amygdala predicted enhanced emotional memory, with subsequent-memory activity greater for negative stimuli than for neutral stimuli, across age groups, a finding consistent with an overall enhancement of emotional memory. However, older adults recruited greater activity in anterior regions and less activity in posterior regions in general for negative stimuli that were subsequently remembered. Functional connectivity of the amygdala with the rest of the brain was consistent with age-related reductions in memory for negative stimuli: Older adults showed decreased functional connectivity between the amygdala and the hippocampus, but increased functional connectivity between the amygdala and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. These findings suggest that age-related differences in the enhancement of emotional memory might reflect decreased connectivity between the amygdala and typical subsequent-memory regions, as well as the engagement of regulatory processes that inhibit emotional responses.
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