The Impact of Age-Related Changes on Working Memory Functional Activity

Steffener, Jason; Brickman, Adam M.; Rakitin, Brian C.; Gazes, Yunglin; Stern, Yaakov

This work investigated associations of age-related brain atrophy and functional neural networks identified using multivariate analyses of BOLD fMRI data in young and elder participants (young, N=37; mean age=25; elders, N=15; mean age=74). Two networks were involved in retaining increasing loads of verbal information in working memory. Network utilizations were used to test associations between function and indices of grey matter volume changes using voxel based morphometry. Global changes in brain volume were not associated with the secondary network. Lower regional grey matter volume in the left pre-central gyrus within the primary network was associated with increased secondary network utilization independent of age group. Decreased regional grey matter volume was associated with increased age only in the elders. Increased secondary network expression was associated with increased slope of reaction times across memory load, in the elders. These results support the theory of neural compensation, that elder participants recruit additional neural resources to maintain task performance in the face of age-related decreases in regional grey matter volume.


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Brain Imaging and Behavior

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February 24, 2018