Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research conducted in healthy young adults is typically done with the assumption that this sample is largely homogeneous. However, studies from cognitive psychology suggest that long-term memory and attentional control begin to diminish in the third decade of life. Here, 100 participants between the ages of 18 and 31 learned Lithuanian translations of English words in an individual differences study using fMRI. Long-term memory ability was operationalized for each participant by deriving a memory score from 3 convergent measures. Age of participant predicted memory score in this cohort. In addition, degree of deactivation during initial encoding in a set of regions occurring largely in the default mode network (DMN) predicted both age and memory score. The current study demonstrates that early memory decline may partially be accounted for by failure to modulate activity in the DMN.

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