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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Dec;96(6):2830-9.

Language and the aging brain: patterns of neural compensation revealed by functional brain imaging.

Author information

1
Volen National Center for Complex Systems, MS 013, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454-9110, USA. Wingfield@brandeis.edu

Abstract

Human aging brings with it declines in sensory function, both in vision and in hearing, as well as a general slowing in a variety of perceptual and cognitive operations. Yet in spite of these declines, language comprehension typically remains well preserved in normal aging. We review data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to describe a two-component model of sentence comprehension: a core sentence-processing area located in the perisylvian region of the left cerebral hemisphere and an associated network of brain regions that support the working memory and other resources needed for comprehension of long or syntactically complex sentences. We use this two-component model to describe the nature of compensatory recruitment of novel brain regions observed when healthy older adults show the same success at comprehending sentences as their younger adult counterparts. We suggest that this plasticity in neural recruitment contributes to the stability of language comprehension in the aging brain.

PMID:
17110737
DOI:
10.1152/jn.00628.2006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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