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Working memory load-dependent brain response predicts behavioral training gains in older adults

  • In the domain of working memory (WM), a sigmoid-shaped relationship between WM load and brain activation patterns has been demonstrated in younger adults. It has been suggested that age-related alterations of this pattern are associated with changes in neural efficiency and capacity. At the same time, WM training studies have shown that some older adults are able to increase their WM performance through training. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging during an n-back WM task at different WM load levels was applied to compare blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses between younger and older participants and to predict gains in WM performance after a subsequent 12-session WM training procedure in older adults. We show that increased neural efficiency and capacity, as reflected by more "youth-like" brain response patterns in regions of interest of the frontoparietal WM network, were associated with better behavioral training outcome beyond the effects of age, sex, education, gray matter volume, and baseline WMIn the domain of working memory (WM), a sigmoid-shaped relationship between WM load and brain activation patterns has been demonstrated in younger adults. It has been suggested that age-related alterations of this pattern are associated with changes in neural efficiency and capacity. At the same time, WM training studies have shown that some older adults are able to increase their WM performance through training. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging during an n-back WM task at different WM load levels was applied to compare blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) responses between younger and older participants and to predict gains in WM performance after a subsequent 12-session WM training procedure in older adults. We show that increased neural efficiency and capacity, as reflected by more "youth-like" brain response patterns in regions of interest of the frontoparietal WM network, were associated with better behavioral training outcome beyond the effects of age, sex, education, gray matter volume, and baseline WM performance. Furthermore, at low difficulty levels, decreases in BOLD response were found after WM training. Results indicate that both neural efficiency (i. e., decreased activation at comparable performance levels) and capacity (i. e., increasing activation with increasing WM load) of a WM-related network predict plasticity of the WM system, whereas WM training may specifically increase neural efficiency in older adults.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Stephan HeinzelORCiDGND, Robert C. Lorenz, Wolf-Ruediger Brockhaus, Torsten Wuestenberg, Norbert Kathmann, Andreas Heinz, Michael Armin RappORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2463-13.2014
ISSN:0270-6474 (print)
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=24453314
Parent Title (English):The journal of neuroscience
Publisher:Society for Neuroscience
Place of publication:Washington
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2014
Year of Completion:2014
Release Date:2017/03/27
Tag:aging; fMRI; neuroimaging; plasticity; training; working memory
Volume:34
Issue:4
Pagenumber:10
First Page:1224
Last Page:1233
Funder:German National Academic Foundation; German Ministry for Education and Research (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) [01QG87164, 01GS08195, 01GQ0914]; German Research Foundation [RA1047/2-1]; MaxNetAging Award
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften
Peer Review:Referiert
Institution name at the time of publication:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Exzellenzbereich Kognitionswissenschaften