We report the first functional neuroimaging meta-analysis on age-related differences in adult neural activity during affect. We identified and coded experimental contrasts from 27 studies (published 1997-2018) with 490 older adults (55-87 years, Mage=69 years) and 470 younger adults (18-39 years, Mage =24 years). Using multilevel kernel density analysis, we assessed functional brain activation contrasts for older vs. younger adult affect across in-scanner tasks (i.e., affect induction and perception). Relative to older adults, younger adults showed more reliable activation in subcortical structures (e.g., amygdala, thalamus, caudate) and in relatively more posterior aspects of specific brain structures (e.g., posterior insula, mid- and posterior cingulate). In contrast, older adults exhibited more reliable activation in the prefrontal cortex and more anterior aspects of specific brain structures (e.g., anterior insula, anterior cingulate). Meta-analytic coactivation network analyses further revealed that in younger adults, the amygdala and mid-cingulate were more central, locally efficient network nodes, whereas in older adults, regions in the superior and medial prefrontal cortex were more central, locally efficient network nodes. Collectively, these findings help characterize age differences in the brain basis of affect and provide insights for future investigations into the neural mechanisms underlying affective aging.
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