Aged Rats With Intact Memory Show Distinctive Recruitment in Cortical Regions Relative to Young Adults in a Cue Mismatch Task

Rebecca P. Haberman, Amy Monasterio, Audrey Branch, Michela Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Similar to elderly humans, aged Long-Evans rats exhibit individual differences in performance on tasks that critically depend on the medial temporal lobe memory system. Although reduced memory performance is common, close to half of aged rats in this outbred rodent population perform within the range of young subjects, exhibiting a stable behavioral phenotype that may signal a resilience to memory decline. Increasing evidence from research on aging in the Long-Evans study population supports the existence of adaptive neural change rather than avoidance of detrimental effects of aging on the brain, indicating a malleability of brain function over the life span that may preserve optimal function. Augmenting prior work that centered on hippocampal function, the current study extends investigation to cortical regions functionally interconnected with the hippocampal formation, including medial temporal lobe cortices and posterior components of the default mode network. In response to an environmental manipulation that creates a mismatch in the expected cue orientation, aged rats with preserved memory show greater activation across an extended network of cortical regions as measured by immediate early gene expression. In contrast, young subjects, behaviorally similar to the aged rats in this study, show a more limited cortical response. This distinctive cortical recruitment in aged unimpaired rats, set against a background of comparable activation across hippocampal subregions, may represent adaptive cortical recruitment consistent with evidence in human studies of neurocognitive aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
StateAccepted/In press - 2019


  • Aging
  • Default mode network
  • Double rotation
  • Medial temporal lobe
  • Memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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