Age-related changes in neural activity during visual target detection measured by fMRI.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of a visual target detection (oddball) task to investigate age differences in neural activation for the detection of two types of infrequent events: visually simple items requiring a response shift (targets) and visually complex items that did not entail a response shift (novels). Targets activated several prefrontal regions (e.g. middle frontal gyrus), as well as deep gray matter regions (caudate, putamen, thalamus and insula). Prefrontal activation was similar for younger and older adults, whereas deep gray matter activation was relatively greater for the older adults. Novels activated occipital regions (fusiform and lateral occipital gyri), and this activation was relatively reduced for older adults. The changes in behavioral performance across the task conditions were similar for the two age groups, although the older adults' responses were slower overall. Regression analyses of the relation between neural activation and task performance (response time) indicated that whereas performance was mediated most directly by prefrontal cortex for younger adults, older adults' performance was influenced to a greater extent by deep gray matter structures. Older adults may place relatively greater emphasis on the attentional control of response regulation, in compensation for the age-related decline in visual processing efficiency.
Madden, DJ; Whiting, WL; Provenzale, JM; Huettel, SA
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