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Cereb Cortex. 2010 Jun;20(6):1432-47. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhp207. Epub 2009 Sep 29.

A multivariate analysis of age-related differences in default mode and task-positive networks across multiple cognitive domains.

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Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


We explored the effects of aging on 2 large-scale brain networks, the default mode network (DMN) and the task-positive network (TPN). During functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning, young and older participants carried out 4 visual tasks: detection, perceptual matching, attentional cueing, and working memory. Accuracy of performance was roughly matched at 80% across tasks and groups. Modulations of activity across conditions were assessed, as well as functional connectivity of both networks. Younger adults showed a broader engagement of the DMN and older adults a more extensive engagement of the TPN. Functional connectivity in the DMN was reduced in older adults, whereas the main pattern of TPN connectivity was equivalent in the 2 groups. Age-specific connectivity also was seen in TPN regions. Increased activity in TPN areas predicted worse accuracy on the tasks, but greater expression of a connectivity pattern associated with a right dorsolateral prefrontal TPN region, seen only in older adults, predicted better performance. These results provide further evidence for age-related differences in the DMN and new evidence of age differences in the TPN. Increased use of the TPN may reflect greater demand on cognitive control processes in older individuals that may be partially offset by alterations in prefrontal functional connectivity.

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