Frontal function and executive processing in older adults: Process and region specific age-related longitudinal functional changes

Joshua O. Goh, Lori L. Beason-Held, Yang An, Michael A. Kraut, Susan M. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Longitudinal studies on aging brain function have shown declines in frontal activity as opposed to the over-recruitment shown in cross-sectional studies. Such mixed findings suggest that age-related changes in frontal activity may be process- and region-specific, having varied associations across different frontal regions involved in distinct cognitive processes, rather than generalized across the frontal cortex. Using data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), we examined individual differences through cross-sectional associations at baseline evaluation and longitudinal changes in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in relation to different executive abilities in cognitively normal older adults. We found that, at baseline, greater rCBF in middle frontal regions correlated with better performance in abstraction and chunking, but greater rCBF in the insula and a distinct middle frontal region correlated with poorer inhibition and discrimination, respectively. In addition, increases in frontal rCBF over time were associated with longitudinal declines in abstraction, chunking, inhibition, discrimination, switching, and manipulation. These findings indicate process- and region-specific, rather than uniform, age-related changes in frontal brain-behavior associations, and also suggest that longitudinally high-levels of frontal engagement reflect declining rather than stable cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroImage
Volume69
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

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Keywords

  • Aging
  • Brain function
  • Cross-sectional
  • Executive processing
  • Longitudinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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