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Brain Cogn. 2011 Mar;75(2):205-10. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2010.12.003. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Age-related differences in attentional networks of alerting and executive control in young, middle-aged, and older Chinese adults.

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Laboratory of Neuropsychology, Department of Neurology, The First Hospital of Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui Province, China.


Previous studies suggest that aging is associated with impairment of attention. However, it is not known whether this represents a global attentional deficit or relates to a specific attentional network. We used the attention network test to examine three groups of younger, middle-aged, and older participants with respect to the efficiency of three anatomically defined attentional networks: alerting network, orienting network, and executive control network. Age-related change was found to have the greatest effect on the executive network and the least effect on the alerting network as well as on overall mean response time. Impairment of the orienting network was found to be insignificant. Age-related deterioration of the prefrontal lobe, the dopaminergic system, and function of specific genes may explain the age-related changes in executive attention, which occur after the fourth decade of life.

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