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Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Jul;33(7):1237-52. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Age and amyloid-related alterations in default network habituation to stimulus repetition.

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Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA.


The neural networks supporting encoding of new information are thought to decline with age, although mnemonic techniques such as repetition may enhance performance in older individuals. Accumulation of amyloid-β, one hallmark pathology of Alzheimer's disease (AD), may contribute to functional alterations in memory networks measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) prior to onset of cognitive impairment. We investigated the effects of age and amyloid burden on fMRI activity in the default network and hippocampus during repetitive encoding. Older individuals, particularly those with high amyloid burden, demonstrated decreased task-induced deactivation in the posteromedial cortices during initial stimulus presentation and failed to modulate fMRI activity in response to repeated trials, whereas young subjects demonstrated a stepwise decrease in deactivation with repetition. The hippocampus demonstrated similar patterns across the groups, showing task-induced activity that decreased in response to repetition. These findings demonstrate that age and amyloid have dissociable functional effects on specific nodes within a distributed memory network, and suggest that functional brain changes may begin far in advance of symptomatic Alzheimer's disease.

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