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Age-related changes in brain–behaviour relationships: Evidence from event-related functional MRI studies

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A fundamental aim of studies in neurocognitive ageing is to understand age-related changes in brain–behaviour relationships. Neuroimaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be used for observation of these age-related changes only if the assumption of age-equivalent relations between neural activity and haemodynamic activity is valid. In one study, we characterised age-related differences in the coupling of the haemodynamic response to neural activity and found greater voxel-wise noise in older than in younger adults, but age-equivalent signal magnitude. These results suggested that alternative techniques may be necessary for analysing age-related differences in neuroimaging data. In a second study, we utilised one alternative method for comparing fMRI activation between younger and older adults performing a working memory (WM) task. Across three experiments, the results suggested that age-related functional changes in fMRI activation can be isolated to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) during memory retrieval. These results suggest a plausible model for WM decline with normal ageing. In a third study we propose and test a model of age-related PFC dysfunction that may account for these and other age-related differences in cognitive performance.

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: University of California, Berkeley, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2001


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