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Age-related changes in neural functional connectivity and its behavioral relevance

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2202-13-16

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Abstract:

Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), the present study investigated how age-related functional resting-state brain connectivity links to cognitive performance in healthy aging in fifty-three participants ranging in age from 18 to 89 years. A beamforming technique was used to reconstruct the brain activity in source space and the interregional coupling was investigated using partial directed coherence (PDC). We found significant age-related alterations of functional resting-state connectivity. These are mainly characterized by reduced information input into the posterior cingulum/precuneus region together with an enhanced information flow to the medial temporal lobe. Furthermore, higher inflow in the medial temporal lobe subsystem was associated with weaker cognitive performance whereas stronger inflow in the posterior cluster was related to better cognitive performance.This is the first study to show age-related alterations in subsystems of the resting state network that are furthermore associated with cognitive performance.It is becoming increasingly acknowledged that effective information processing crucially depends on the integrity of communication between distributed cortical and subcortical regions. Deviating network patterns have been identified in mental disorders (e.g. [1,2]) and also dementia [3-5]. However, a growing amount of structural and functional evidence implies that even through normal aging dramatic changes in brain networks occur. Total brain volume declines with age [6] with evidence for changes in cingulate sulci, hippocampus, insula, caudate, cerebellum and the entorhinal cortices [7,8]. Atrophy has been documented for gray and white matter [9-12] as well as loss of synaptic connections [13]. Amyloid deposition can be observed even in non-demented elderly [14-16] in association with an aberrant default network functional activity as measured by means of fMRI [17]. However, hemodynamic measures are very slow, in the range of seconds, and do not

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