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Brain characteristics of individuals resisting age-related cognitive decline over two decades
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Neuroscience, ISSN 0270-6474, E-ISSN 1529-2401, Vol. 33, no 20, 8668-8677 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Some elderly appear to resist age-related decline in cognitive functions, but the neural correlates of successful cognitive aging are not well known. Here, older human participants from a longitudinal study were classified as successful or average relative to the mean attrition-corrected cognitive development across 15-20 years in a population-based sample (n = 1561). Fifty-one successful elderly and 51 age-matched average elderly (mean age: 68.8 years) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing an episodic memory face-name paired-associates task. Successful older participants had higher BOLD signal during encoding than average participants, notably in the bilateral PFC and the left hippocampus (HC). The HC activation of the average, but not the successful, older group was lower than that of a young reference group (n = 45, mean age: 35.3 years). HC activation was correlated with task performance, thus likely contributing to the superior memory performance of successful older participants. The frontal BOLD response pattern might reflect individual differences present from young age. Additional analyses confirmed that both the initial cognitive level and the slope of cognitive change across the longitudinal measurement period contributed to the observed group differences in BOLD signal. Further, the differences between the older groups could not be accounted for by differences in brain structure. The current results suggest that one mechanism behind successful cognitive aging might be preservation of HC function combined with a high frontal responsivity. These findings highlight sources for heterogeneity in cognitive aging and may hold useful information for cognitive intervention studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 33, no 20, 8668-8677 p.
National Category
Neurosciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-91525DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2900-12.2013ISI: 000319112600009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-91525DiVA: diva2:634704
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilKnut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation
Note

AuthorCount:6;

Available from: 2013-07-01 Created: 2013-06-28 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Brain characteristics of memory decline and stability in aging: Contributions from longitudinal observations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Brain characteristics of memory decline and stability in aging: Contributions from longitudinal observations
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aging is typically associated with declining mental abilities, most prominent for some forms of memory. There are, however, large inter-individual differences within the older population. Some people experience rapid decline whereas others seem almost spared from any adverse effects of aging. This thesis examined the neural underpinnings of such individual differences by using longitudinal observations of episodic memory change across 15-20 years, combined with structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Study I found significant correlations between volume and activity of the hippocampus (HC), and memory change over a 6-year period. That is, individuals with decline in HC function also had declining memory. In contrast, Study II showed that successfully aged individuals, who maintained high memory scores over 15-20 years, had preserved HC function compared to age-matched elderly with average memory change. The successful agers had HC activity levels comparable to those of young individuals, as well as higher frontal activity. Study III revealed that individual differences in memory ability and brain activity of elderly reflect both differential age-related changes, and individual differences in memory ability that are present already in midlife, when age effects are minimal. Specifically, memory scores obtained 15-20 years earlier reliably predicted brain activity in memory-relevant regions such as the frontal cortex and HC. This observation challenges results from previous cross-sectional aging studies that did not consider individual differences in cognitive ability from youth. Collectively the three studies implicate HC and frontal cortex function behind heterogeneity in cognitive aging, both substantiating and qualifying previous results from cross-sectional studies. More generally, the findings highlight the importance of longitudinal estimates of cognitive change for fully understanding the mechanisms of neurocognitive aging.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2013. 114 p.
Keyword
aging, episodic memory, individual differences, longitudinal assessment, magnetic resonance imaging, hippocampus, frontal cortex
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-93026 (URN)978-91-7447-734-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-10-04, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-09-12 Created: 2013-08-28 Last updated: 2013-09-12Bibliographically approved

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