Patterns of gray matter (GM) loss were measured in 223 healthy subjects spanning eight decades. We observed significant clusters of accelerated loss in focal regions of the frontal and parietal cortices, including the dorsolateral frontal cortex, pre- and postcentral gyrus, and the inferior and superior parietal lobes. The rate of loss in these clusters was approximately twice that of the global average. By contrast, clusters of significant GM preservation were found in limbic and paralimbic structures, including the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, and the cingulate gyrus. In these clusters, GM loss was attenuated significantly relative to the global rate. The preservation of these structures is consistent with the functional importance of the thalamo-limbic circuits in sensory integration, arousal, emotion, and memory, and lends credence to the idea that later-maturing cortical regions are more vulnerable to age-related morphologic changes. Moreover, the limbic findings act as a frame of reference to explore further the effects of stress and learning on these structures in an evidence-based manner across age. Hum Brain Mapp, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.