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Hippocampal activity during the transverse patterning task declines with cognitive competence but not with age.

Leirer VM, Wienbruch C, Paul-Jordanov I, Kolassa S, Elbert T, Kolassa IT - BMC Neurosci (2010)

Bottom Line: Better performance in several tests of verbal memory, verbal fluency and executive function was indeed associated with higher hippocampal neural activity.Age, however, was not related to the strength of hippocampal neural activity: elderly participants responded slower than younger individuals but on average produced the same neural mass activity.Our results suggest that in non-pathological aging, hippocampal neural activity does not decrease with age but is rather related to cognitive competence.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Clinical Psychology & Neuropsychology, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstr, 10, Konstanz, Germany. vera.leirer@uni-konstanz.de

ABSTRACT

Background: The hippocampus is a brain region that is particularly affected by age-related morphological changes. It is generally assumed that a loss in hippocampal volume results in functional deficits that contribute to age-related cognitive decline. In a combined cross-sectional behavioural and magnetoencephalography (MEG) study we investigated whether hippocampal-associated neural current flow during a transverse patterning task - which requires learning relational associations between stimuli - correlates with age and whether it is modulated by cognitive competence.

Results: Better performance in several tests of verbal memory, verbal fluency and executive function was indeed associated with higher hippocampal neural activity. Age, however, was not related to the strength of hippocampal neural activity: elderly participants responded slower than younger individuals but on average produced the same neural mass activity.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that in non-pathological aging, hippocampal neural activity does not decrease with age but is rather related to cognitive competence.

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Experimental design of the Transverse Patterning task.
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Figure 2: Experimental design of the Transverse Patterning task.

Mentions: Each trial began with the presentation of a grey screen with a fixation cross for 3-7 s to aid participants in maintaining gaze on the center of the screen, followed by the presentation of the stimulus pairs. Each pair of stimuli was presented for up to 10 s or until the participant responded via mouse button press. The response was followed immediately by a feedback sound: a high-pitched tone (1000 Hz) if the reaction was correct and a low-pitched tone (250 Hz) if the answer was incorrect. If the subject did not respond after 10 s, the trial was considered incorrect and the picture disappeared, the fixation cross appeared, and a new trial started (Figure 2). Participants either needed to accomplish 10 correct training trials in a row or 42 trials altogether.


Hippocampal activity during the transverse patterning task declines with cognitive competence but not with age.

Leirer VM, Wienbruch C, Paul-Jordanov I, Kolassa S, Elbert T, Kolassa IT - BMC Neurosci (2010)

Experimental design of the Transverse Patterning task.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2944355&req=5

Figure 2: Experimental design of the Transverse Patterning task.
Mentions: Each trial began with the presentation of a grey screen with a fixation cross for 3-7 s to aid participants in maintaining gaze on the center of the screen, followed by the presentation of the stimulus pairs. Each pair of stimuli was presented for up to 10 s or until the participant responded via mouse button press. The response was followed immediately by a feedback sound: a high-pitched tone (1000 Hz) if the reaction was correct and a low-pitched tone (250 Hz) if the answer was incorrect. If the subject did not respond after 10 s, the trial was considered incorrect and the picture disappeared, the fixation cross appeared, and a new trial started (Figure 2). Participants either needed to accomplish 10 correct training trials in a row or 42 trials altogether.

Bottom Line: Better performance in several tests of verbal memory, verbal fluency and executive function was indeed associated with higher hippocampal neural activity.Age, however, was not related to the strength of hippocampal neural activity: elderly participants responded slower than younger individuals but on average produced the same neural mass activity.Our results suggest that in non-pathological aging, hippocampal neural activity does not decrease with age but is rather related to cognitive competence.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Clinical Psychology & Neuropsychology, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstr, 10, Konstanz, Germany. vera.leirer@uni-konstanz.de

ABSTRACT

Background: The hippocampus is a brain region that is particularly affected by age-related morphological changes. It is generally assumed that a loss in hippocampal volume results in functional deficits that contribute to age-related cognitive decline. In a combined cross-sectional behavioural and magnetoencephalography (MEG) study we investigated whether hippocampal-associated neural current flow during a transverse patterning task - which requires learning relational associations between stimuli - correlates with age and whether it is modulated by cognitive competence.

Results: Better performance in several tests of verbal memory, verbal fluency and executive function was indeed associated with higher hippocampal neural activity. Age, however, was not related to the strength of hippocampal neural activity: elderly participants responded slower than younger individuals but on average produced the same neural mass activity.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that in non-pathological aging, hippocampal neural activity does not decrease with age but is rather related to cognitive competence.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus