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Front Hum Neurosci. 2011 Mar 11;5:24. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00024. eCollection 2011.

Age differences in FMRI adaptation for sound identity and location.

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Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Toronto, ON, Canada.


We explored age differences in auditory perception by measuring fMRI adaptation of brain activity to repetitions of sound identity (what) and location (where), using meaningful environmental sounds. In one condition, both sound identity and location were repeated allowing us to assess non-specific adaptation. In other conditions, only one feature was repeated (identity or location) to assess domain-specific adaptation. Both young and older adults showed comparable non-specific adaptation (identity and location) in bilateral temporal lobes, medial parietal cortex, and subcortical regions. However, older adults showed reduced domain-specific adaptation to location repetitions in a distributed set of regions, including frontal and parietal areas, and to identity repetition in anterior temporal cortex. We also re-analyzed data from a previously published 1-back fMRI study, in which participants responded to infrequent repetition of the identity or location of meaningful sounds. This analysis revealed age differences in domain-specific adaptation in a set of brain regions that overlapped substantially with those identified in the adaptation experiment. This converging evidence of reductions in the degree of auditory fMRI adaptation in older adults suggests that the processing of specific auditory "what" and "where" information is altered with age, which may influence cognitive functions that depend on this processing.


adaptation; aging; auditory system; fMRI; spatial localization

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