An evaluation of the frontal lobe theory of cognitive aging

Louise H. Phillips*, Julie D. Henry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


In the 1990s, it was argued that age-related changes in the frontal lobes predict cognitive changes in older adults. However, evidence for this hypothesis from behavioural and neuroimaging studies were equivocal at best. This chapter reviews the following four issues. First, there is little strong evidence to support the conclusion that executive control is differentially affected by age in comparison with other cognitive functions. Second, there are differences in the pattern of deficits seen following focal frontal lobe damage and those accompanying the ageing process. Third, the effects of age on social and emotional functioning have been largely ignored, despite considerable evidence linking such functions to the frontal lobes of the brain. Fourth, functional neuroimaging data do not support a straightforward version of the frontal-lobe theory of ageing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMeasuring the Mind Speed, control, and age
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780191693588
ISBN (Print)9780198566427
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2012


  • Ageing process
  • Emotional functioning
  • Frontal lobe
  • Frontal-lobe damage
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Neuroimaging data


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