Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
As people get older, they tend to remember more positive than negative information. This age-by-valence interaction has been called “positivity effect.” The current study addressed the hypotheses that baseline functional connectivity at rest is predictive of older adults' brain activity when learning emotional information and their positivity effect in memory. Using fMRI, we examined the relationship among resting-state functional connectivity, subsequent brain activity when learning emotional faces, and individual differences in the positivity effect (the relative tendency to remember faces expressing positive vs. negative emotions). Consistent with our hypothesis, older adults with a stronger positivity effect had increased functional coupling between amygdala and medial PFC (MPFC) during rest. In contrast, younger adults did not show the association between resting connectivity and memory positivity. A similar age-by-memory positivity interaction was also found when learning emotional faces. That is, memory positivity in older adults was associated with (a) enhanced MPFC activity when learning emotional faces and (b) increased negative functional coupling between amygdala and MPFC when learning negative faces. In contrast, memory positivity in younger adults was related to neither enhanced MPFC activity to emotional faces, nor MPFC–amygdala connectivity to negative faces. Furthermore, stronger MPFC–amygdala connectivity during rest was predictive of subsequent greater MPFC activity when learning emotional faces. Thus, emotion–memory interaction in older adults depends not only on the task-related brain activity but also on the baseline functional connectivity.