Neuroscience

Cognitive aging and memory

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Science  01 Feb 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6426, pp. 495-496
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6426.495-d

A poor ability to recollect details about past events is part of normal brain aging. This is often attributed to depleted efficacy of encoding processes. Reduced selectivity of brain regions sensitive to a specific class of stimuli, a phenomenon called neural dedifferentiation, is thought to play a role. Koen et al. investigated neural dedifferentiation in old and young subjects during memory encoding and whether this could predict subsequent recollection. Objects and scenes were chosen because they selectively engage distinct cortical regions. Only one of these regions showed neural dedifferentiation that correlated with age. An outcome from neuropsychological tests also correlated with subsequent memory performance. However, this correlation was age invariant. Neural differentiation is thus associated with two independent factors: age and cognitive performance.

J. Neurosci. 39, 149 (2019).

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