Age-dependent brain activation during forward and backward digit recall revealed by fMRI

Xiwen Sun, Xiaochu Zhang, Xiangchuan Chen, Peng Zhang, Min Bao, Daren Zhang, Jing Chen, Sheng He, Xiaoping Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


In this study, brain activation associated with forward and backward digit recall was examined in healthy old and young adults using functional MRI. A number of areas were activated during the recall. In young adults, greater activation was found in the left prefrontal cortex (BA9) and the left occipital visual cortex during backward digit recall than forward digit recall. In contrast, the activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus (BA 44/45) was more extensive in forward digit recall than in backward digit recall. In older adults, backward recall generated stronger activation than forward recall in most areas, including the frontal, the parietal, the occipital, and the temporal cortices. In the backward recall condition, the right inferior frontal gyrus (BA44/45) showed more activation in the old group than in the young group. These results suggest that different neural mechanisms may be involved in forward and backward digit recall and brain functions associated with these two types of recall are differentially affected by aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 15 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (39928005, 39970253, 30370478, 30328017), the Outstanding Overseas Chinese Scholars Fund of Chinese Academy of Sciences, NIH (grant number RO1 EB002009), and the James S McDonnell Foundation.


  • Aging
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Short-term memory
  • Working memory
  • fMRI


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