Age-related differences in the neural basis of the subjective vividness of memories: evidence from multivoxel pattern classification

Marcia K. Johnson, Brice A. Kuhl, Karen J. Mitchell, Elizabeth Ankudowich, Kelly A. Durbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although older adults often show reduced episodic memory accuracy, their ratings of the subjective vividness of their memories often equal or even exceed those of young adults. Such findings suggest that young and older adults may differentially access and/or weight different kinds of information in making vividness judgments. We examined this idea using multivoxel pattern classification of fMRI data to measure category representations while participants saw and remembered pictures of objects and scenes. Consistent with our hypothesis, there were age-related differences in how category representations related to the subjective sense of vividness. During remembering, older adults’ vividness ratings were more related, relative to young adults’, to category representations in prefrontal cortex. In contrast, young adults’ vividness ratings were more related, relative to older adults, to category representations in parietal cortex. In addition, category representations were more correlated among posterior regions in young than in older adults, whereas correlations between PFC and posterior regions did not differ between the 2 groups. Together, these results are consistent with the idea that young and older adults differentially weight different types of information in assessing subjective vividness of their memories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-661
Number of pages18
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 8 2015



  • Aging
  • Episodic memory
  • MVPA
  • Subjective experience
  • Vividness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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