scholarly journals Inter- and Intra-Hemispheric Age-Related Remodeling in Visuo-Spatial Working Memory

2022 ◽  
Vol 13 ◽  
Chiara F. Tagliabue ◽  
Greta Varesio ◽  
Veronica Mazza

Electroencephalography (EEG) studies investigating visuo-spatial working memory (vWM) in aging typically adopt an event-related potential (ERP) analysis approach that has shed light on the age-related changes during item retention and retrieval. However, this approach does not fully enable a detailed description of the time course of the neural dynamics related to aging. The most frequent age-related changes in brain activity have been described by two influential models of neurocognitive aging, the Hemispheric Asymmetry Reduction in Older Adults (HAROLD) and the Posterior-Anterior Shift in Aging (PASA). These models posit that older adults tend to recruit additional brain areas (bilateral as predicted by HAROLD and anterior as predicted by PASA) when performing several cognitive tasks. We tested younger (N = 36) and older adults (N = 35) in a typical vWM task (delayed match-to-sample) where participants have to retain items and then compare them to a sample. Through a data-driven whole scalp EEG analysis we aimed at characterizing the temporal dynamics of the age-related activations predicted by the two models, both across and within different stages of stimulus processing. Behaviorally, younger outperformed older adults. The EEG analysis showed that older adults engaged supplementary bilateral posterior and frontal sites when processing different levels of memory load, in line with both HAROLD and PASA-like activations. Interestingly, these age-related supplementary activations dynamically developed over time. Indeed, they varied across different stages of stimulus processing, with HAROLD-like modulations being mainly present during item retention, and PASA-like activity during both retention and retrieval. Overall, the present results suggest that age-related neural changes are not a phenomenon indiscriminately present throughout all levels of cognitive processing.

2021 ◽  
Adeline Jabès ◽  
Giuliana Klencklen ◽  
Paolo Ruggeri ◽  
Christoph M. Michel ◽  
Pamela Banta Lavenex ◽  

AbstractAlterations of resting-state EEG microstates have been associated with various neurological disorders and behavioral states. Interestingly, age-related differences in EEG microstate organization have also been reported, and it has been suggested that resting-state EEG activity may predict cognitive capacities in healthy individuals across the lifespan. In this exploratory study, we performed a microstate analysis of resting-state brain activity and tested allocentric spatial working memory performance in healthy adult individuals: twenty 25–30-year-olds and twenty-five 64–75-year-olds. We found a lower spatial working memory performance in older adults, as well as age-related differences in the five EEG microstate maps A, B, C, C′ and D, but especially in microstate maps C and C′. These two maps have been linked to neuronal activity in the frontal and parietal brain regions which are associated with working memory and attention, cognitive functions that have been shown to be sensitive to aging. Older adults exhibited lower global explained variance and occurrence of maps C and C′. Moreover, although there was a higher probability to transition from any map towards maps C, C′ and D in young and older adults, this probability was lower in older adults. Finally, although age-related differences in resting-state EEG microstates paralleled differences in allocentric spatial working memory performance, we found no evidence that any individual or combination of resting-state EEG microstate parameter(s) could reliably predict individual spatial working memory performance. Whether the temporal dynamics of EEG microstates may be used to assess healthy cognitive aging from resting-state brain activity requires further investigation.

2006 ◽  
Vol 18 (4) ◽  
pp. 637-650 ◽  
Monica Fabiani ◽  
Kathy A. Low ◽  
Emily Wee ◽  
Jeffrey J. Sable ◽  
Gabriele Gratton

Cognitive aging theories emphasize the decrease in efficiency of inhibitory processes and attention control in normal aging, which, in turn, may result in reduction of working memory function. Accordingly, some of these age-related changes may be due to faster sensory memory decay or to inefficient filtering of irrelevant sensory information (sensory gating). Here, event-related brain potentials and the event-related optical signal were recorded in younger and older adults passively listening to tone trains. To determine whether age differentially affects decay of sensory memory templates over short intervals, trains were separated by delays of either 1 or 5 sec. To determine whether age affects the suppression of responses to unattended repeated stimuli, we evaluated the brain activity elicited by successive train stimuli. Some trains started with a shorter-duration stimulus (deviant trains). Results showed that both electrical and optical responses to tones were more persistent with repeated stimulation in older adults than in younger adults, whereas the effects of delay were similar in the two groups. A mismatch negativity (MMN) was elicited by the first stimulus in deviant trains. This MMN was larger for 1- than 5-sec delay, but did not differ across groups. These data suggest that age-related changes in sensory processing are likely due to inefficient filtering of repeated information, rather than to faster sensory memory decay. This inefficient filtering may be due to, or interact with, reduced attention control. Furthermore, it may increase the noise levels in the information processing system and thus contribute to problems with working memory and speed of processing.

2014 ◽  
Vol 2014 ◽  
pp. 1-7 ◽  
Stephan Heinzel ◽  
Thomas G. Riemer ◽  
Stefanie Schulte ◽  
Johanna Onken ◽  
Andreas Heinz ◽  

Objectives. Recent work suggests that a genetic variation associated with increased dopamine metabolism in the prefrontal cortex (catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met; COMT) amplifies age-related changes in working memory performance. Research on younger adults indicates that the influence of dopamine-related genetic polymorphisms on working memory performance increases when testing the cognitive limits through training. To date, this has not been studied in older adults.Method. Here we investigate the effect of COMT genotype on plasticity in working memory in a sample of 14 younger (aged 24–30 years) and 25 older (aged 60–75 years) healthy adults. Participants underwent adaptive training in then-back working memory task over 12 sessions under increasing difficulty conditions.Results. Both younger and older adults exhibited sizeable behavioral plasticity through training (P<.001), which was larger in younger as compared to older adults (P<.001). Age-related differences were qualified by an interaction with COMT genotype (P<.001), and this interaction was due to decreased behavioral plasticity in older adults carrying the Val/Val genotype, while there was no effect of genotype in younger adults.Discussion. Our findings indicate that age-related changes in plasticity in working memory are critically affected by genetic variation in prefrontal dopamine metabolism.

2021 ◽  
Vol 12 ◽  
Yu Wen Koo ◽  
David L. Neumann ◽  
Tamara Ownsworth ◽  
David H. K. Shum

Prospective memory (PM) is the ability to perform a planned action at a future time. Older adults have shown moderate declines in PM, which are thought to be driven by age-related changes in the prefrontal cortex. However, an age-PM paradox is often reported, whereby deficits are evident in laboratory-based PM tasks, but not naturalistic PM tasks. The key aims of this study were to: (1) examine the age-PM paradox using the same sample across laboratory and ecological settings; and (2) determine whether self-reported PM and cognitive factors such as working memory and IQ are associated PM performance. Two PM tasks were administered (ecological vs. laboratory) to a sample of 23 community-dwelling older adults (Mage = 72.30, SDage = 5.62) and 28 young adults (Mage = 20.18, SDage = 3.30). Participants also completed measures of general cognitive function, working memory, IQ, and self-reported memory. Our results did not support the existence of the age-PM paradox. Strong age effects across both laboratory and ecological PM tasks were observed in which older adults consistently performed worse on the PM tasks than young adults. In addition, PM performance was significantly associated with self-reported PM measures in young adults. For older adults, IQ was associated with time-based PM. These findings suggest that the age-PM paradox is more complex than first thought and there are differential predictors of PM performance for younger and older adults.

2011 ◽  
Vol 23 (1) ◽  
pp. 11-25 ◽  
Joaquin A. Anguera ◽  
Patricia A. Reuter-Lorenz ◽  
Daniel T. Willingham ◽  
Rachael D. Seidler

It is well documented that both cognitive and motor learning abilities decline with normative aging. Given that cognitive processes such as working memory are engaged during the early stages of motor learning [Anguera, J., Reuter-Lorenz, P., Willingham, D., & Seidler, R. Contributions of spatial working memory to visuomotor learning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(9), 1917–1930, 2010], age-related declines in motor learning may be due in part to reductions in cognitive ability. The present study examined whether age-related declines in spatial working memory (SWM) contribute to deficits in visuomotor adaptation. Young and older adult participants performed a visuomotor adaptation task that involved adapting manual aiming movements to a 30° rotation of the visual feedback display as well as an SWM task in an fMRI scanner. Young adults showed a steeper learning curve than older adults during the early adaptation period. The rate of early adaptation was correlated with SWM performance for the young, but not older, adults. Both groups showed similar brain activation patterns for the SWM task, including engagement of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and bilateral inferior parietal lobules. However, when the SWM activation was used as a limiting mask, younger adults showed neural activation that overlapped with the early adaptation period, whereas older adults did not. A partial correlation controlling for age revealed that the rate of early adaptation correlated with the amount of activation at the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest that a failure to effectively engage SWM processes during learning contributes to age-related deficits in visuomotor adaptation.

2014 ◽  
Vol 28 (3) ◽  
pp. 162-177 ◽  
Patrick D. Gajewski ◽  
Michael Falkenstein

It is well known that working memory is one of the most vulnerable cognitive functions in elderly. However, little is known about the neuronal underpinnings and temporal dynamics of working memory mechanisms in healthy aging which are necessary to understand the age-related changes. To this end, 36 young and 36 old healthy individuals performed a 2-back task and a 0-back control task, while the electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded. Participants were instructed to press a response key whenever a target appeared and not to respond in case of nontargets. Expectedly, older participants showed considerably slower RTs and significantly higher rates of omitted targets and false alarms than young participants in the 2-back task, whereas no age-group difference in detection rate was found in the 0-back task. From the EEG event-related potentials as well as time-frequency plots were computed. The ERPs showed a general delay of the frontocentral N2, and an attenuation and delay of both the P3a and P3b in older versus younger adults. Importantly, the frontal P3a was reduced in older adults in the 2-back task. Time-frequency decomposition revealed consistently lower power in frontal theta (6 Hz) and parietal alpha (9–11 Hz) frequency range in older versus younger adults whereas no age-related differences were found in the delta frequency range. Task unspecific reduction of posterior alpha in elderly was paralleled by a reduction of the P3b. In contrast, the older adults had a strongly reduced frontal theta power in the 2-back task, which parallels the P3a reduction in the ERPs. The widespread reduction of alpha may indicate that older adults needed to recruit more attentional resources for successful task performance, whereas reduced frontal theta may indicate that older adults are less able to recruit frontal resources related to top-down control with increasing task demands. This suggests a less efficient fronto-parietal network synchronicity in older individuals that leads to deficits in identification and maintenance of task relevant stimuli.

Yi-Chuan Chen ◽  
Su-Ling Yeh ◽  
Pei-Fang Tang

Abstract Objectives Perceiving simultaneity of a visual and an auditory signal is critical for humans to integrate these multisensory inputs effectively and respond properly. We examined age-related changes in audiovisual simultaneity perception, and the relationships between this perception and working memory performances with aging. Methods Audiovisual simultaneity perception of young, middle-aged, and older adults was measured using a simultaneity judgment (SJ) task, in which a flash and a beep were presented at 1 of 11 stimulus-onset asynchronies (SOAs). Participants judged whether these two stimuli were perceived simultaneously. Precision of simultaneity perception, the SOA corresponding to the point of subjective simultaneity (PSS), and response errors at each SOA were estimated using model fitting. The precision and PSS are associated with multisensory perception per se, whereas the response error reflects executive ability when performing the SJ task. Visual working memory of the same middle-aged and older adults was measured using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) beforehand. Results Compared to young adults’ performances, middle-aged and older adults showed a decreased precision, a shift of PSS toward the visual-leading SOAs, and increased response errors at the visual-leading SOAs. Among these changes, only the increased response errors correlated with worse spatial recognition memory in middle-aged and older adults. Discussion Age-related decrements in audiovisual simultaneity perception start from middle age and are manifested in both perceptual and executive parameters. Furthermore, higher-order executive ability is plausibly a common cause for age-related degenerations in the audiovisual simultaneity perception and visual working memory.

2017 ◽  
Vol 29 (9) ◽  
pp. 1483-1497 ◽  
Camarin E. Rolle ◽  
Joaquin A. Anguera ◽  
Sasha N. Skinner ◽  
Bradley Voytek ◽  
Adam Gazzaley

Daily experiences demand both focused and broad allocation of attention for us to interact efficiently with our complex environments. Many types of attention have shown age-related decline, although there is also evidence that such deficits may be remediated with cognitive training. However, spatial attention abilities have shown inconsistent age-related differences, and the extent of potential enhancement of these abilities remains unknown. Here, we assessed spatial attention in both healthy younger and older adults and trained this ability in both age groups for 5 hr over the course of 2 weeks using a custom-made, computerized mobile training application. We compared training-related gains on a spatial attention assessment and spatial working memory task to age-matched controls who engaged in expectancy-matched, active placebo computerized training. Age-related declines in spatial attention abilities were observed regardless of task difficulty. Spatial attention training led to improved focused and distributed attention abilities as well as improved spatial working memory in both younger and older participants. No such improvements were observed in either of the age-matched control groups. Note that these findings were not a function of improvements in simple response time, as basic motoric function did not change after training. Furthermore, when using change in simple response time as a covariate, all findings remained significant. These results suggest that spatial attention training can lead to enhancements in spatial working memory regardless of age.

2000 ◽  
Vol 12 (1) ◽  
pp. 174-187 ◽  
Patricia A. Reuter-Lorenz ◽  
John Jonides ◽  
Edward E. Smith ◽  
Alan Hartley ◽  
Andrea Miller ◽  

Age-related decline in working memory figures prominently in theories of cognitive aging. However, the effects of aging on the neural substrate of working memory are largely unknown. Positron emission tomography (PET) was used to investigate verbal and spatial short-term storage (3 sec) in older and younger adults. Previous investigations with younger subjects performing these same tasks have revealed asymmetries in the lateral organization of verbal and spatial working memory. Using volume of interest (VOI) analyses that specifically compared activation at sites identified with working memory to their homologous twin in the opposite hemisphere, we show pronounced age differences in this organization, particularly in the frontal lobes: In younger adults, activation is predominantly left lateralized for verbal working memory, and right lateralized for spatial working memory, whereas older adults show a global pattern of anterior bilateral activation for both types of memory. Analyses of frontal subregions indicate that several underlying patterns contribute to global bilaterality in older adults: most notably, bilateral activation in areas associated with rehearsal, and paradoxical laterality in dorsolateral prefrontal sites (DLPFC; greater left activation for spatial and greater right activation for verbal). We consider several mechanisms that could account for these age differences including the possibility that bilateral activation reflects recruitment to compensate for neural decline.

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