Description: Over time, research into what happens in the brain as humans age has moved beyond looking at issues related to the loss of specific neurons or areas of the brain as a result of things like stroke damage and begun to look in more complex manners at how the various regions of the brain interact with one another while we are processing information. The article linked below describes a recent study that looked at the specificity or cohesiveness of interaction between areas of the brain during information processing in young, middle-aged, and older individuals. Before you read the article think for a minute about what direction you think things might move with age. As we get older do you think we likely experience more or less cohesiveness in relation to the interconnected functioning of brain regions?
Source: Missed connections: As people age, memory – related brain activity loses cohesion, PLOS. ScienceDaily.
Date: November 23, 2016
Photo Credit: Davidson et al.
Links: Article Link — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161123141802.htm
What is quite interesting from the results of this study is that the extent to which people’s distinct brain regions interacted independently or in an interconnected manner was both a clear individual difference variable and related to aging. While it is not clear what such observations might actually indicate it provides yet another way to think about both individual differences and aging. It will also be interesting to see if some of these dimensions of variability can be shown to be linked to or to predict certain strengths and certain disorders. While you can probably come up with a fairly extensive list of age-related changes in brain functioning and particularly memory it might be a little harder to come up with strength related issues. One thing to consider as a possible example is the general observation that we tend to be unwilling to attribute a trait like wisdom to people who are not old. Perhaps, wisdom is negatively related to level of brain cohesiveness.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is the relationship between brain cohesiveness and aging?
- What are some of the ways in which individual differences in brain cohesiveness might be described in ways that would also map onto the observation about age-related changes in this same area?
- Can you think of other examples of age-related changes in thinking of brain functioning that might be usefully considered from a more complex interactive model such as that described in the article linked above?
References (Read Further):
Elizabeth N. Davison, Benjamin O. Turner, Kimberly J. Schlesinger, Michael B. Miller, Scott T. Grafton, Danielle S. Bassett, Jean M. Carlson. Individual Differences in Dynamic Functional Brain Connectivity across the Human Lifespan. PLOS Computational Biology, 2016; 12 (11): https://arxiv.org/pdf/1606.09545
Renante Rondina, Rosanna K. Olsen, Douglas A. McQuiggan, Zainab Fatima, Lingqian Li, Esther Oziel, Jed A. Meltzer, Jennifer D. Ryan. Age-related changes to oscillatory dynamics in hippocampal and neocortical networks. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 2015; http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1074742715002269
Hironori Ohsugi, Shohei Ohgi, Kenta Shigemori, Eric B Schneider. Differences in dual-task performance and prefrontal cortex activation between younger and older adults. BMC Neuroscience, 2013; 14 (1): 10 http://bmcneurosci.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2202-14-10