The cognitive neuroscience of aging: New findings on compensation and connectivity

  • Phillips L
  • Andrés P
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During the last couple of decades we have witnessed the intense development of a fascinating discipline marrying two fields that previously had little overlap. This new discipline is the cognitive neuroscience of aging, which focuses on the relationships between the age effects on behavioral measures such as accuracy and speed data from attention, memory or executive function tasks and age effects on the brain assessed through neuroimaging. A range of neuroimaging techniques Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Event Related Potentials and Diffusion Tensor Imaging are used to explore age effects on a number of cognitive tasks ranging from attention and passive listening to memory and executive function. One immediate issue which emerges from many of the papers is that even when behavioral performance indicates that older adults can carry out a cognitive task to the same level as young, there may be subtle differences in the pattern of neural activity. Better understanding of maturational changes in the connectivity between different brain regions will be an important topic in the future understanding of cognitive aging. This special issue highlights the importance of bringing together information from behavioral and neural domains to enrich our understanding of both. This field has moved on from a simple model of decline to instead focus on the relationship between cognitive resources, tasks and compensatory mechanisms in old age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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