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Neural Plast. 2012;2012:624795. doi: 10.1155/2012/624795. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Age-related decline in controlled retrieval: the role of the PFC and sleep.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA. krw37@pitt.edu

Abstract

Age-related cognitive impairments often include difficulty retrieving memories, particularly those that rely on executive control. In this paper we discuss the influence of the prefrontal cortex on memory retrieval, and the specific memory processes associated with the prefrontal cortex that decline in late adulthood. We conclude that preretrieval processes associated with preparation to make a memory judgment are impaired, leading to greater reliance on postretrieval processes. This is consistent with the view that impairments in executive control significantly contribute to deficits in controlled retrieval. Finally, we discuss age-related changes in sleep as a potential mechanism that contributes to deficiencies in executive control that are important for efficient retrieval. The sleep literature points to the importance of slow-wave sleep in restoration of prefrontal cortex function. Given that slow-wave sleep significantly declines with age, we hypothesize that age-related changes in slow-wave sleep could mediate age-related decline in executive control, manifesting a robust deficit in controlled memory retrieval processes. Interventions, like physical activity, that improve sleep could be effective methods to enhance controlled memory processes in late life.

PMID:
22970389
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3434414
Free PMC Article

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