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Dev Neuropsychol. 2000;18(1):113-37.

Differential effects of aging on the functions of the corpus callosum.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 525 East University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109, USA.


Several structural imaging studies have revealed atrophy in regions of the corpus callosum due to normal aging. We examined the performance of young and senior adults on 2 behavioral measures of interhemispheric interactions to test for possible functional consequences of callosal decline. In a simple reaction time task, the efficiency of sensorimotor transfer was assessed by comparing response times from conditions that required interhemispheric transfer (e.g., the left hand responding to a right visual field light) to those from conditions that did not require transfer (e.g., the left hand responding to a left visual field light). Older adults were selectively slower when interhemispheric transfer was required. In the second task, participants matched letters presented within the same visual field or in opposite visual fields. This task is thought to index attentional functions of the corpus callosum, in particular, callosal contributions to resource allocation (Banich, 1998). For more difficult tasks, older participants showed a performance advantage on bilateral conditions requiring transfer compared to unilateral conditions that did not require transfer. This advantage equaled or exceeded that observed in younger adults. Together these results suggest that age does not have uniform effects on callosal function. Whereas sensorimotor functions show age-related decline, attentional functions of the corpus callosum may be relatively preserved and assume a more prominent role in the aging brain.

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